WASHINGTON (Reuters) - During his election campaign in 2016, U.S. President Donald Trump promised to shake up global trade and bring down America’s growing trade deficits.
Now relationships with all but one of the United States' top ten 2018 trading partners has been thrown into uncertainty, and there is no clear roadmap for when new trade agreements may be finalized. tmsnrt.rs/2LifgH6
The United States has been embroiled in a tit-for-tat trade war for 17 months with its once-largest trading partner. Trump said Tuesday here he had "no deadline" for the deal, and that he likes "the idea of waiting until after" the U.S. 2020 presidential election, sending stock markets tumbling.
U.S.-China bilateral trade accounted for 15.7% of U.S. trade in goods during 2018, when it was the largest U.S. trading partner. U.S.-China trade has since shrunk to third place behind that with Mexico and Canada, making up 13.5 percent of total trade in 2019 through September.
The Trump administration renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement with its neighbors in 2018 here.
But the deal has yet to be passed by the U.S. Congress, where Democrats want for more protections for workers and changes that may lead to cheaper drug prices, leaving the future of the three-country, $1.2 trillion open trade zone uncertain.
Trump has threatened to impose tariffs of up to 25% on auto imports from the European Union. Trump missed a deadline here to decide on the tariffs, but has not withdrawn his tariff threat as negotiations fail to gain traction.
Separately, the USTR said Monday it would review raising tariffs on more EU products, without specifics, after the World Trade Organization affirmed that aid to planemaker Airbus continues to harm the U.S. aerospace industry. And The U.S. Trade Representative’s office unveiled a $2.4 billion tariff list of imports from France, including cheese, handbags and Champagne, as punishment for France’s new digital services tax.
The EU was America’s top export market in 2018, with purchases of $319 billion in U.S. goods and $256 billion in U.S. services. EU members Germany, France, Britain and Italy were among the top 10 U.S. trading partners in 2018.
Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed a limited trade deal in September that would grant more access to Japan for some $7 billion in U.S. agriculture products, including beef and pork, in exchange for lowering U.S. tariffs on some industrial goods. But the deal did not include autos, the biggest source of the $67 billion U.S. goods trade deficit in 2019.
Although Abe says he has been assured that Japan will not face car tariffs as Washington and Tokyo resume negotiations next year, Trump has not eliminated the threat of such duties.
The United States in July eliminated India’s trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences, affecting some $5.6 billion worth of exports, amid disputes over India’s new digital trade restrictions and alleged trade barriers for U.S. medical devices and other products.
Negotiations to resolve the issues and lower some of India’s high tariffs for farm goods, motorcycles and industrial goods, have failed to result in an interim deal thus far.
The only completed and implemented trade deal that Trump’s administration has negotiated has been a minor revamp of the U.S.-Korean Free Trade Deal last year. The deal allows the United States to maintain its 25% truck tariff for another 20 years instead of phasing it out in 2021, while reducing some Korean regulatory barriers to car imports from the United States.
Reporting by Heather Timmons and David Lawder; Editing by Alistair Bell