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Donald Trump calls on EU to ‘drop all tariffs’

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Donald Trump has called on the European Union to drop all "tariffs, barriers and subsidies", hours after his administration promised billions of dollars in aid to US farmers to mitigate the impact of a trade war.

The US president posted his latest tweet ahead of European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker's arrival in Washington for trade talks.

"The European Union is coming to Washington tomorrow to negotiate a deal on Trade," Mr Trump said. "I have an idea for them. Both the US and the EU drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade! Hope they do it, we are ready – but they won't!"

The European Union is coming to Washington tomorrow to negotiate a deal on Trade. I have an idea for them. Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade! Hope they do it, we are ready – but they wont!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2018

The president's tweet came after his administration said it would pay $12bn (£9.1bn) in aid to US farmers who have been hit by retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and the EU.

The money will help soyabean, pork and other farmers, while the administration thrashes out new arrangements with trading partners.

Sonny Perdue, the US agriculture secretary, said: "President Trump has promised since day one that he has the back of every American farmer and rancher.

"This is a short-term solution that will give President Trump time to work on the long-term trade policy and deal that will benefit agriculture as well as all sectors of the American economy."

In a tweet earlier in the day, the president said: "Tariffs are the greatest."

Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. Its as simple as that – and everybodys talking! Remember, we are the “piggy bank” thats being robbed. All will be Great!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2018

He told an event in Kansas City on Tuesday that "farmers will be the biggest beneficiary" of trade talks.

"Just be a little patient," Mr Trump said.

In a fresh assault on Wednesday morning, Trump said "China was targetting our farmers" and he criticised politicians for undermining his negotiations.

China is targeting our farmers, who they know I love & respect, as a way of getting me to continue allowing them to take advantage of the U.S. They are being vicious in what will be their failed attempt. We were being nice – until now! China made $517 Billion on us last year.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2018

Every time I see a weak politician asking to stop Trade talks or the use of Tariffs to counter unfair Tariffs, I wonder, what can they be thinking? Are we just going to continue and let our farmers and country get ripped off? Lost $817 Billion on Trade last year. No weakness!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2018

The US has imposed a 25% levy on the import of steal and 10% on aluminum from the European Union. The EU hit back with tariffs on US goods worth $3.3bn (£2.5bn), including whiskey, motorcycles and peanuts.

The EU is readying levies on an additional $20bn of goods if the US decides to hit its car industry.

The EU's budget commissioner Guenther Oettinger told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that the bloc was ready to discuss proposals to cut tariffs.

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"Firstly, our common line is that we expect the existing punitive tariffs to be lifted," Mr Oettinger said. "Then we are ready to discuss a reduction and restructuring of all tariffs in all sectors."

"In this way, we want to avoid a further escalation of the trade conflict, and to avoid a trade war."

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