Taoiseach and Trump had ’disagreement’ over trade

Varadkar tells Dáil ‘I have the measure of Trump’ after their meeting in Shannon

US president Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington DC.

US president Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington DC.

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and US president Donald Trump had a “disagreement” on the balance of trade surpluses at their meeting in Shannon, Co Clare.

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil: “I have met President Trump three times now, so I think I have the measure of him, perhaps a little bit more than those who have not.”

The Taoiseach met Mr Trump when he arrived at Shannon for his visit to his golf resort at Doonbeg in early June.

Mr Varadkar was responding to opposition leaders about the US president’s trip to Ireland as part of his visit to mark the 75th anniversary in France of the D-Day landings in Normandy.

He said they discussed trade, Brexit and climate change.

Asked about State spending at properties owned by Mr Trump, the Taoiseach said he was not aware of any Government spending at any Trump organisation properties either in Ireland or the US.

They had a disagreement about trade and Mr Trump “counts the merchandise surplus but doesn’t have regard to the services and that is very much how he sees things, in terms of physical goods and not services.

“So we had a disagreement as you can imagine on that, with me pointing out that in the modern economy it is more about services than it is about merchandise and that the US has a very significant services surplus over us which more than balance out the merchandise surplus we have over them.

“I also pointed out that measurements are distorted by the fact we have such large US companied here in Ireland.”

He said he also explained “why EU membership is good for Ireland, why Brexit is bad for the UK, why I think Brexit is bad for Ireland and why I think Brexit is bad for the EU, and also have explained the peace process - a hard border and what that would mean and why we are doing all we can to avoid it”.

He did not have any private discussions with anyone in the Trump delegation “just an exchange of pleasantries, but the time and opportunity wasn’t there to have any one-to-one conversations with any of his delegation”.