Relations between Europe and the U.S. are “excellent” but current trade terms are “not fair” to America, Mike Pompeo said on Monday as he visited the Netherlands.
The U.S. Secretary of State said Donald Trump was “trying to get a fair, reciprocal, even playing field for America and for Europe” and that “disagreements” were a normal part of transatlantic diplomacy.
In an interview with Euronews, he was asked about reports that the president had previously referred to the European Union a ‘foe’.
“I think what President Trump meant was there are places where the United States economy hasn’t been treated fairly,” Pompeo said.
“We can’t sell our agricultural products in most countries inside the European Union yet the European Union can sell their products into the United States — that’s not fair, that’s not reciprocal. No-one would think you would set up a trade regime that would permit that to continue to happen, to have unequal tariffs.”
Pompeo was in The Hague to attend a U.S.-Dutch entrepreneurship conference and to meet his Dutch counterpart, Stef Blok.
He denied there were tensions over U.S. foreign and trade policy, such as differences on how to deal with Iran and Venezuela.
“I meet with my European partners constantly,” Pompeo said. “There are always … disagreements, there’s spats, there’s trade disputes … but it’s always the case that our shared value sets … those always prevail and they will here again too.”
He added: “There’s a long history of the United States and Europe having places where we disagree, I’m sure that will continue but the overall relationship? I must say I think it is excellent.”
Pompeo also said the U.S. was keen to establish a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain but denied Trump was trying to influence British politics by publicly calling for a no-deal withdrawal from the EU.
“The people of the United Kingdom are the biggest supporters [of Brexit], right? They voted for it. This is what actually matters. That is why Brexit will proceed. It’s not because of what any third party says, it’s because the people of the United Kingdom have demanded it.”
He also insisted that U.S. intelligence agencies were right to have concerns about the Chinese telecoms giant, Huawei, despite scepticism expressed by Trump.
"Look, I used to run the CIA," Pompeo said. "There’s no doubt the intelligence community gets things wrong from time to time but their overall body of work is excellent and to be relied upon and trusted. Western countries, liberal democracies share a common value set. The Chinese don’t share that value set."
Huawei's corporate governance, which includes three Communist Party members sitting on its board of directors, was "deeply inconsistent" with European standards, he said.
“Europeans care deeply about privacy, I know that very well,” Pompeo said. “One can’t have private information flowing across a network that has access and control from the Chinese government.”