Trump Says Trade War Could Drag On, Stokes France Spat -- Update
By Catherine Lucey
LONDON -- President Trump suggested a trade war with China could
drag out past the 2020 election and stoked a tariff spat with
France during a visit to Europe for a NATO meeting.
Mr. Trump said he had "no deadline" to conclude a trade deal
with China, adding that "in some ways I like the idea of waiting
until after the election," during a sitdown with the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday
The president's comments injected fresh uncertainty over the
future of a "phase-one" trade deal between the U.S. and China.
Looming closer are the administration's plans to impose tariffs on
smartphones, toys and other products from China on Dec. 15.
In Europe for the two-day gathering, Mr. Trump also criticized
French President Emmanuel Macron for comments he made about the
29-member military alliance, and expressed frustration with
France's new digital-services tax.
"I don't want France taxing American companies. If they're going
to be taxed it's going to be the United States that will tax them,"
Mr. Trump said, during a freewheeling exchange with reporters that
lasted for over 50 minutes.
The French tax, which was signed into law July 24, applies a 3%
tax on revenue that tech companies reap in France from such
activities as undertaking targeted advertising or running a digital
marketplace. In response, the Trump administration has proposed
tariffs of up to 100% against $2.4 billion of French imports.
Mr. Trump also said the French leader's comments about NATO were
"very insulting." Ahead of the meeting, Mr. Macron gave an
interview to the Economist, warning that the continent was
experiencing "the brain death of NATO" and renewing his call for
Europe to bolster its own military capabilities.
"It's a tough statement," Mr. Trump said. "When you make a
statement like that, that is a very, very nasty statement to
essentially, including them, 28 countries."
Mr. Trump is expected to meet later Tuesday with Mr. Macron, as
well as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, before attending
tea with Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of
Cornwall, as well as a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by
Queen Elizabeth II. The president is also due at a reception at
Number 10 Downing Street hosted by Prime Minister Boris
Visiting the U.K. days ahead of parliamentary elections, Mr.
Trump said he had "no thoughts" on the vote and promised to "stay
out" of the election. But he also praised Mr. Johnson, saying he
was "very capable and I think he'll do a good job."
Mr. Trump attended the NATO meeting as impeachment proceedings
continue in Washington. On Wednesday, while the president is
meeting with foreign leaders, the House Judiciary Committee will
hold a hearing with legal experts on what constitutes an
Asked if cast a cloud over his international efforts, Mr. Trump
labelled Democrats leading the investigation as "very
"Does it cast a cloud?" he said. "Well, if it does, then the
Democrats have done a very great disservice to the country, which
they have. They've wasted a lot of time."
Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly called on NATO members to increase
their military spending, also said he was pleased that countries
have increased their contributions and said he was looking forward
to a "tremendous" few days.
Administration officials said Friday that nine members now meet
or exceed the goal of spending 2% of GDP on defense and they expect
it to rise to 18 countries by 2024.
At another event Tuesday, Mr. Stoltenberg said the military
alliance was in good shape despite political rifts, citing the
stationing of combat-ready troops from several nations on the
alliance's eastern flank.
"Actions speak louder than words," Mr. Stoltenberg told a
conference. "In NATO, we have bad rhetorics but extremely good
-- James Marson contributed to this article
Write to Catherine Lucey at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 03, 2019 07:58 ET (12:58 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.