FRANKFURT, Germany — President Donald Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on imported cars is working, sending foreign leaders from Mexico to Japan racing to the negotiating table to make deals. But their offers may not satisfy a president who has shown a willingness to embrace trade tensions in an effort to extract more from American trading partners.
The European Union on Thursday made one of the most significant concessions, saying it would cut its existing penalties on automobiles to zero, provided the United States dropped its own tariffs. Although the president has called for something similar, Trump said he wanted Europe to go even further.
“It’s not good enough,” Trump said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “Their consumer habits are to buy their cars, not to buy our cars.”
The EU’s top trade official on Thursday said the bloc would be willing to remove all tariffs on cars and other industrial products as part of a limited trade deal with the United States, if America did the same.
Europe had previously expressed a willingness to eliminate tariffs on industrial goods, but excluded cars, and said any deal had to be part of a broad free-trade agreement.
“We would do it, if they do it,” Cecilia Malmstrom, the European commissioner for trade, told members of the European Parliament on Thursday. “That remains to be seen.”
The offer will require Trump to decide whether he is willing to eliminate U.S. tariffs, like a 25 percent tax on imported trucks, as he has previously said he is willing to do. If not, Europe would have to call his bluff.
Mexico, too, has been willing to deal. On Monday, the Mexican government agreed to effectively cap exports of cars, sport utility vehicles and auto parts into the United States, subjecting any exports above those levels to Trump’s tariffs if they go into effect.
Mexico, Canada and Europe initially insisted that they would not negotiate about trade “with a gun to the head.” But existing tariffs on steel and aluminum, and the specter of tariffs on automobiles, helped change their minds.