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3/10/17

Germany: Merkel set to have her most awkward American experience – with Trump

She told the German Parliament that Europe “must be able to have an independent crisis management in our region” — not in competition, but in addition to NATO.

The “trans-Atlantic partnership based upon our values and interests” is of overriding importance for Europeans — and that “this is the spirit” in which she would lead her talks with Trump in Washington.

Indirectly referring to Trump’s isolationist economic leanings, she said “even if in parts of the world we see protectionist and nationalist approaches on the rise, Europe may never isolate, seal itself off or withdraw.”

Trump has vowed to take a tougher line in forging deals and slapping a border tax of 35 percent on cars that German carmaker BMW plans to build at a new plant in Mexico and export to the United States.

But the Germans are willing to call it a bluff. “Do we really want to try to force German citizens to buy American cars?” says, Jürgen Hardt, the Berlin’s coordinator for transatlantic policies.

“Does the American president want to force Americans to stop buying German cars in the future? Do we want to artificially make German cars more expensive with taxes so that consumers buy more foreign products?”

Asked about the future of transatlantic trade, a senior administration official on Friday said the White House has “not formulated a final position” on whether it will pursue the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) deal with the European Union.

On defense and security policy, Trump has been “heartened” by what he has heard from Berlin about devoting more resources to the annual NATO military budget, according to the senior official.

Germany spends less than 1.2 per cent of its gross domestic product on defense, compared with a NATO target of 2 per cent. Trump wants this to change, and Berlin has pledged to meet the NATO target by the mid-2020s.

Trump intends to talk with Merkel about her government crafting a “concrete plan,” the senior official said.

Read more: Merkel set to have her most awkward American experience – with Trump | Euronews

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