Brussels 'concerned' over US trade deficit probe
Brussels has hit back at a US probe into trade deficits with Ireland and other EU member states.
EU trade chief Cecilia Malmström said she was "concerned" at the US move, and said the European Commission had written a letter to the US on behalf of the EU's 28 members.
"The EU has one single trade policy, and diverging surpluses or deficits in one individual member state cannot originate in trade policy measures," Ms Malmström told reporters in Brussels last week.
"We understand that the US wants to look at this, but we feel very strongly that a deficit is not an accurate metric only to evaluate the consequences of trade or openness," she said. "We'll have to see what happens."
In 2016, the US ran a trade deficit of around half a trillion dollars with the rest of the world.
That figure included a high deficit in goods with China and several EU countries: Germany ($64.9bn), Ireland ($35.9bn), Italy ($28.5bn) and France ($15.8bn).
US President Donald Trump has ordered a study into whether "unfair and discriminatory trade practices" by its partners are responsible for the deficits.
The study, due to be published at the end of June, will look at countries with whom the US has a "significant" trade deficit. Meanwhile, an EU court has found that the European Commission was wrong to refuse to register a petition to stop talks on an EU-US trade deal.