Trump raises tensions with claim EU ‘as bad as China’
Donald Trump has continued his assault on the EU over trade by claiming the bloc is "possibly as bad as China".
The US president, who has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the EU, ratcheted up tensions with the 28-member bloc on Sunday by insisting European countries treated America "very badly".
He told Fox News: "The EU is possibly as bad as China, just smaller, okay. It's terrible what they do to us.
"Take a look at the car situation, they send their Mercedes in, we can't send our cars in.
"Look what they do to our farmers, they don't want our farm products. In all fairness they have their farmers so they want to protect their farmers.
"But we don't protect ours and they protect theirs."
Mr Trump repeated his frequent claim the EU, which has responded to the US tariffs with retaliatory measures, has a $151bn (£114bn) trade surplus with America.
This appears to ignore trade in services which, when included, reduces the EU's trade surplus by more than $50bn to $101bn.
The president has also regularly excluded services trade in claims about a US trade deficit with China, in contradiction to official White House figures.
In the TV interview, Mr Trump highlighted his German and Scottish heritage, adding: "I love those countries, Germany and all of the countries, Scotland. You know you have Scotland, they're still in there, they're still hanging in their right. We'll see what happens with Brexit.
"But, they treat us very badly, they treat us very unfairly."
He also repeated a message to those EU countries who are also members of NATO, with the president having often called on them to boost defence spending in his war of words over trade.
Mr Trump said: "I can say it better in a different way. They made, last year, $151bn in trade surplus. We had a deficit with the EU.
"On top of that, we spend a fortune on NATO to protect them."
In another area of dispute with EU nations, Mr Trump confirmed he will sanction European companies if they do business with Iran.
"Yep, of course. That's what we're doing, absolutely," he said.
It follows the president's dramatic withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, despite the EU continuing to support the agreement.
Mr Trump's comments come ahead of his trip to Brussels for an EU summit on 11 July, after which he will make his controversial first presidential visit to Britain before meeting Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
The Sunday Telegraph reported Mr Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, last week held a secret meeting with senior Conservative eurosceptic MPs in London.
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Mr Bolton was said to have stressed the president's enthusiasm for a US-UK trade deal and his belief the two countries can finalise an agreement two years after Brexit.
Last week, it was claimed Mr Trump has tried to persuade France to leave the EU in return for a special trade deal with America.