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U.S. car-tariff truce with Europe may end soon, EU’s Juncker signals

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Juncker (left) and Trump met at the White House in July when they both agreed on a “ceasefire.”

BERLIN — European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker signaled that Europe’s avoidance of extra U.S. car tariffs might last only until year-end, the latest indication of the fragility of the trans-Atlantic truce reached in the summer.

President Donald Trump agreed with Juncker at a meeting in Washington in July to hold off new duties while the two sides work toward reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers on industrial goods shipped between the European Union and the U.S.

“We had achieved that there will not be a new trade conflict over the summer months until the end of the year, particularly with regard to car tariffs,” Juncker said in a speech in Berlin on Monday.

The Trump administration could impose the threatened 25 percent car tariffs on national- security grounds once U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross completes an investigation on the matter, which could come anytime before a deadline by early next year.

Auto tariffs at that level would add about 10,000 euros ($11,300) to the sticker price of the average European-built car sold in the U.S., according a European Commission assessment obtained by Bloomberg last summer. That would cut U.S. imports of European cars and car parts in half, the Commission forecast.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Friday that the Trump administration still showed little interest in reaching an agreement to reduce industrial tariffs. The American focus in talks on a market-opening accord continues to be on closer regulatory cooperation rather than on tariff reductions, she told reporters in Brussels.

The EU remains prepared to seek an agreement with the U.S. to reduce tariffs on industrial goods and the bloc is “ready to start” work on the scope of such a deal, Malmstrom said.

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