Speaking about his trade dispute with the European Union ahead of the G20 summit, US President Donald Trump referred to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as “a fantastic gentleman, fantastic business person, extremely tough”, but aired his distaste for one particular member of Juncker’s team.
“You have a woman in Europe, I won’t mention her name,” he told Fox host Maria Bartiromo, who has Italian roots. “She hates the United States, perhaps worse than any person I’ve ever met.”
“What she does to our country – she’s suing all our companies,” he complained, accusing Brussels of making it “almost impossible to do two-way business.”
It came in an apparent reference to the European Union’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, who has whacked Google with multi-billion fines for violating anti-trust laws and is considering a new competition investigation into Apple.
Trump also reiterated his claim that the EU has adopted unfair trade practices against the US. In April, the POTUS threatened to slap tariffs on $11 billion worth of EU products in response to the bloc’s subsidies to plane manufacturer Airbus.
“They have worse trade barriers than China. They don’t take our product, we take their product. They send us cars, they don’t take our cars. Europe has treated us very badly,” he added.
Trump, who hiked levies on European imports in 2018 and may go ahead with new auto tariffs later this year, also claimed that “European nations were set up to take advantage of the United States.”
He praised Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank, which has been keeping its benchmark refinancing rates at zero per cent and interest rates below zero to stimulate the euro-zone.
The US Federal Reserve, meanwhile, has been gradually increasing interest rates in response to a healthy economy. Trump has repeatedly criticised Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, arguing that such policies stifle economic growth.
In response, Powel highlighted the Fed’s independence from “political pressures”, warning about “the damage that often arises when policy bends to short-term political interests."