President Donald Trump touted America’s strong economy before leaving Davos Wednesday, and said negotiating a trade deal with the European Union (EU) is “tougher than China.” He also urged the World Trade Organization (WTO) to reform its system.
“Everyone’s talking about America’s unprecedented economic success. It’s really the talk of the town, so to speak,” said Trump during a surprise press conference on the second day of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
Trump also said the United States will negotiate a trade deal with the EU. “We met with the world leaders—various world leaders, including the President of the European Commission, who we’re going to start negotiating a trade deal with, because the European Commission was, frankly, in many ways, tougher than China.
“I say that respectfully, but that’s the way it is. They’ve taken advantage for a long time. And so we’re going to have a deal. I suspect we’re going to be able to make a deal. Otherwise, we’ll have to do something else,” said Trump.
In a separate interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump said he would impose tariffs on European cars if no fair deal is reached.
Roberto Azevedo, director general of the WTO, was also at the press conference. He agreed with Trump’s stance that the multilateral trading system needs to be reformed, saying he is committed to do so.
“I think they understand that the system has not been functioning properly in many areas,” said Azevedo. “That’s something that we’re trying to address.” He added, “We are committed to effect those changes. And this is something that we are serious about.”
Trump has repeatedly complained about the organization being unfair to the United States, including treating countries like China and India as developing nations. Last December, the United States blocked new appointments to the organization’s Appellate Body, essentially crippled its dispute settlement mechanism.
The summit in the Swiss Alpine town runs Jan 21. through Jan. 24. The high-profile forum brings together government leaders, business elites, economists, and celebrities from around the world.