Briefing

Donald Trump sets pre-presidential-election target for European trade deal

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At a press conference before leaving the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the U.S. president said he wants an agreement before the vote, scheduled for November 3. Accompanied by World Trade Organization (WTO) director general Roberto Azevêdo, he also promised a “very dramatic” change to the organization. (The Wall Street Journal)

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Talking point: Trump has threatened tariffs on European auto imports if the continent doesn’t make a deal on trade, a bargaining tactic he’s used against China as well as Canada and Mexico. His administration has also blocked appointments to the WTO’s appeals court over claims that the U.S. doesn’t get fair trials there, effectively rendering it unable to function. Canada has led an international effort to come up with reforms, and International Trade Minister Mary Ng is chairing a meeting of the group in Davos this week. Trump’s negotiations with Azevêdo—who he said will shortly visit Washington, D.C. for talks—circumvent that process. Trump also spent 30 minutes with over 30 tech executives gathered on Wednesday morning. Apple CEO Tim Cook—whom the president recently criticized over encryption—and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty reportedly pushed for the White House to expand access to skills training.