Decision time: Tonight we’ll find out whether Trump wants a trade war with Europe

By Heather Long

President Trump has until midnight to decide whether the European Union gets smacked with tariffs on steel and aluminum. To put it another way, the United States could very well be in a trade “spat” with some of its closest allies by the time people walk their dogs Tuesday morning.

Despite the smiles and many warm embraces last week between Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the E.U. and United States have fundamental disagreements on trade. Trump says the United States has been treated unfairly for years, especially by China and Germany. Europe thinks Trump is trying to blow up the entire rules-based trade system that the United States pushed everyone else to join in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Both sides think they have the moral — and legal — high ground. And Monday night, those tensions could boil over.

“If Trump doesn’t exempt Europe, we’ll get in a trade war with the E.U. countries. They are not going to let this pass,” said C. Don Johnson, a Democratic former congressman from Georgia and U.S. trade negotiator for the Clinton administration. He is the author of “The Wealth of a Nation: A History of Trade Politics in America.”

[Trump keeps U.S. allies on edge ahead of steel tariffs deadline]

The Trump administration is demanding the E.U. accept 25 percent tariffs on steel sent to the United States and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum or agree to a quota that would sharply limit how much of the metals the E.U. could ship here. Europe has rejected those demands.

When Trump first announced the tariffs, he set up a 30-day window for countries to negotiate. …read more

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