Trade war: EU commissioner seeks broad tariff cuts in negotiations with US

European Union Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger holds a news conference to present the EU executive's final proposal for the bloc's next long-term budget, in Brussels, Belgium | Photo: Reuters

The European Union's budget commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, said on Wednesday the bloc could try to seek a wide reduction of tariffs in negotiations with the United States this year.

"In this way, we want to avoid a further escalation of the trade conflict, and to avoid a trade war," Oettinger, a German, told Deutschlandfunk radio.

"One could try to untangle the existing tariffs and then ... reduce tariffs for various goods and services."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker travels to Washington on Wednesday for talks focused on trade tensions after the US imposition of tariffs on EU steel and aluminium and US President Donald Trump's threats to extend those measures to European cars.

On Monday, the Commission said Juncker would not arrive in the United States for the talks with Trump with a specific trade offer.