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Trump relents on EU car tariffs after Juncker meet

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U.S. President Donald Trump and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker speak about trade relations in the Rose Garden of the White House. Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In what the EU chief called a “major concession,” US President Donald Trump agreed on Wednesday to refrain from imposing car tariffs while the two sides launch negotiations to cut other trade barriers, easing the threat of a transatlantic trade war.

After a meeting at the White House, Mr Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the talks would also seek to “resolve” US tariffs on steel and aluminium and Europe’s retaliatory duties – marking a step back from Mr Trump’s signature import protections for American metals producers.

The breakthrough came as the bitter trade dispute between the United States and China appeared to claim a major casualty, with China not approving US chipmaker Qualcomm Inc’s (QCOM.O) takeover of NXP Semiconductors (NXPI.O), likely shutting the door on the $44 billion deal.

Qualcomm needed Beijing’s okay because China accounts for nearly two-thirds of its revenue, but a deadline at midday yesterday in Asia passed without word from China’s regulator. Qualcomm had said on Wednesday it was dropping the bid.

Mr Trump said Europe agreed to increase purchases of US liquefied natural gas and lower trade barriers to American soybeans, aiding US farmers and the energy sector.

“Soybeans is a big deal. And the European Union is going to start, almost immediately, to buy a lot of soybeans,” Mr Trump told reporters after the meeting.

Mr Trump later tweeted that work on documents was “moving along quickly,” adding that the meeting with Mr Juncker had “great warmth.”

“A breakthrough has been quickly made that nobody thought possible!” Mr Trump wrote, marking a turnaround from July 15, when he called the 28-nation European Union a “foe” on trade.

Mr Juncker said the two sides agreed that as long as they were negotiating on trade, they would hold off on further tariffs, including potential US tariffs on cars and auto parts.

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