October 16, 2018 / 6:10 AM / 9 months ago

Trump rhetoric unhelpful for trade talks, says EU's Malmstrom

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom attends an interview with Reuters in Geneva, Switzerland June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

BERLIN (Reuters) - The EU’s Trade Commissioner said on Tuesday that some of U.S. President Donald Trump’s rhetoric was unhelpful while she was trying to make progress in trade talks and said the bloc would have to respond if Washington imposed tariffs on EU cars.

The EU is trying to avert a tariff war with the United States, and Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom stressed that the two sides were still only at an early stage in talks, working on issues such as how to cooperate on regulations.

Asked by Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio about comments made by Trump on the EU taking advantage of the United States, she said: “We have just started to discuss what sort of a trade agreement would be most advantageous for both sides. Such rhetoric is anything but helpful.”

“If the United States slam 25 percent EU auto tariffs on the table, we cannot simply stand by and watch. Then we will have to react. I hope that won’t happen,” she added, declining to set a deadline for the conclusion of talks.

Trump agreed in July to hold back on a threatened 25 percent import tariff on EU cars while the two sides discussed removing trade barriers, including duties on industrial goods.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Maria Sheahan

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