President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he hoped “to work something out on a fair trade deal with Europe.”
Juncker’s visit came during what many experts see as an historic low-point for U.S.-European relations, which have become frayed by Trump’s trade wars, his fondness for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump’s skepticism of multilateral institutions like NATO and the European Union.
In announcing Juncker’s visit, the White House said in a statement on July 17 that the two men would discuss “a wide range of priorities, including foreign and security policy, counterterrorism, energy security, and economic growth,” with a “focus on improving transatlantic trade and forging a stronger economic partnership.”
Trump’s own comments about Europe, however, have repeatedly stood in stark contrast to the White House message. “The European Union — outside of China and a couple of others — treats us, on trade, as badly as you can be treated,” Trump said during a May visit from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “They have trade barriers. Our farmers aren’t allowed, to a large extent, to sell their product into the European Union.”
According to Trump’s own Department of Agriculture, however, this is not true. On the contrary, the USDA reported that in 2017, American agricultural exports to the European Union totaled $11.2 billion, making Europe the fifth largest export market in the world for U.S. farmers.