By Agence France-Presse
President Donald Trump on Tuesday spoke with European leaders about working together to counter China’s alleged unfair trade practices, the White House said.
The move comes as Washington and the European Union are at loggerheads over Trump’s decision earlier this month to slap steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel “discussed joining forces to counter China’s unfair economic practices and illegal acquisition of intellectual property,” the White House said in a statement.
The pair also discussed “leveling the playing field on tariffs,” the statement said.
In a separate call with French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump likewise discussed “next steps” in dealing with China’s “unfair trade practices,” the White House said.
“The two leaders also discussed trade practices between the United States and European Union,” according to a statement.
Trump is waging simultaneous trade battles with Beijing and Brussels, having unveiled tariffs this month on the metal imports as well as on up to $60 billion in annual imports of Chinese goods.
European and American trade officials have said talks are underway to reach a compromise and the United States has temporarily exempted Europe from the tariffs of 10 percent on aluminum and 25 percent on steel.
But Brussels has identified US goods — such as peanut butter and Harley-Davidson motorcycles — which could be subject to painful import duties if the compromise efforts fail.
European officials have said the US tariffs do not address the common problem of industrial overcapacity and market glut, for which Washington blames Beijing.