Trump calls Germans ‘bad’ but agrees EU trade plan – By Peter Teffer and Eric Maurice, Brussels

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During this conversation, Trump reportedly said Germans were ‘very bad’, because of their trade surplus with the US (Photo: Council of the European Union)

US president Donald Trump reportedly called Germans “bad, very bad” because of the US’ trade deficit with Germany. His comments came even as the European Commission had said that the EU and US would work on a common trade plan.

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“The Germans are bad, very bad,” Trump reportedly said during his meeting in Brussels with European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, according to German weekly Der Spiegel.

“Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US. Terrible! We’ll stop that,” the US president added.

Last year, the US had a goods trade deficit with Germany of about €58 billion.

Juncker then intervened to say free trade benefits the US as well, according to Der Spiegel’s source.

Since the failure of talks on TTIP, the EU-US free trade agreement, and in the face of the Trump administration’s calls for more protectionism, the EU has been stressing the US’ interests in good trading relations.

In February, the EU commission chief had already told US vice president Mike Pence that “the US economy is depending more than some in the US think – on the exchanges, the trade volumes … between the US and the European Union.”

“Including Indiana, by the way,” he added, referring to Pence’s own state – where he had been governor between 2013 and 2017.

According to EU sources, Trump also said the US was concerned that Brexit would destroy jobs in the US.

Trump’s reported comments emerged as EU sources said that EU and US leaders agreed to set up a “working group” or “joint action plan” on trade.

Few details about the initiative are known, since both sides will have to form their delegations and define the scope of the talks.

Various EU sources said that the joint group would work on “difficult” bilateral issues, as well as on “global” issues, but suggested that a revival of TTIP talks may not be included.

The White House said in a statement, after the meeting, that the US and the EU “should deepen [their] strong economic relationship and that leaders “discussed the need to protect American and European industries against unfair competition”.

After Thursday’s meeting, Tusk mentioned trade as one of the “issues [that] remain open”.