President Trump did not understand that the US cannot negotiate a trade deal with Germany alone and must deal with the European Union as a bloc, a senior German official told The Times of London.
“Ten times Trump asked [German chancellor Angela Merkel] if he could negotiate a trade deal with Germany. Every time she replied, ‘You can’t do a trade deal with Germany, only the EU,'” the official said.
They continued: “On the eleventh refusal, Trump finally got the message, ‘Oh, we’ll do a deal with Europe then.'”
Merkel reportedly told her cabinet members that Trump had “very basic misunderstandings” on the “fundamentals” of the EU and trade.
The exchange occurred when Merkel met with Trump last month and reportedly convinced him to negotiate with the EU as a bloc after attempts by his administration to deal with individual countries were declined.
The conversation led Trump’s administration to realise that it was more vital to US interests to nail down a trade deal with the EU than one with the UK post-Brexit, a source close to the White House told the Times.
Trump’s new stance is similar to the one adopted by former president Barack Obama, who warned that the UK would be “at the back of the queue” if it followed through with Brexit.
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