The leaders agreed to work toward "zero tariffs" between the US and the EU, which would decisively reverse the slew of trade tariffs imposed recently. The deal involves the EU purchasing natural gas from the US.
US President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker met at the White House on Wednesday, where they announced that the US and the European Union would work to reduce tensions that have arisen from Trump's confrontational trade policy over the past few months .
The meeting comes after weeks of acrimony between the US and EU — which account for 50 percent of global trade — as both sides slapped tariffs on one another.
Major points announced
In an unexpected press announcement in the Rose Garden, Trump and Juncker laid out the major goals that they had agreed upon in their meeting:
Statements from Trump and Juncker
Prior to their statements on the White House lawn, the two leaders had voiced optimism in a press briefing that common ground could be found on the contentious issue of trade tariffs.
DW's Washington bureau chief, Alexandra von Nahmen, was in the room and described the greeting between the two men as "quite friendly" but noted there was a "tense" air.
A new direction in trade?
Reactions from the EU, US
Peter Altmaier, Germany's economic affairs minister, congratulated the two leaders on the outcome of Wednesday's meeting, writing on Twitter that it was a "breakthrough" that could avoid a trade war "and save millions of jobs."
A top German trade representative greeted the announcement with more caution, however, warning that the issue of US auto tariffs had not yet been resolved. Eric Schweitzer, the president of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told reporters shortly after Trump and Juncker's statements that "the proposed solutions move in the right direction, but a significant portion of skepticism remains."
Meanwhile, in the US, various Republican leaders hailed Trump's progress in trade relations with the EU.
Joni Ernst, Republican Senator from Iowa, a major farm state, celebrated the news of soybean purchases:
But Anthony Gardner, a former US ambassador to the EU, dismissed the announcement as "absurd" in a serious of tweets that pointed out that the European Union as a bloc cannot purchase commodities:
How we got here: Trump had consistently criticized the EU for its trade policies, which he says put the United States at a disadvantage. He launched the first salvo in late June by slapping import tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum. The EU retaliated by putting its owns tariffs on US goods such as Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Levi's jeans.
Tit-for-tat: Earlier on Wednesday, the EU threatened retaliatory tariffs worth $20 billion (€17 billion) should the US make good on its vow to raise tariffs on European automobiles. German carmakers have been a favorite target of Trump's, becoming the subject of a number of aggressive tweets and public statements.
cmb, js/se (AP, AFP, Reuters)