President Donald Trump is set to address reporters alongside Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in a joint news conference at the White House on Tuesday.
The press event, scheduled to follow a meeting between the two heads of state, will be the U.S. president's first encounter with a European Union leader since announcing new tariffs on steel and aluminum last week. It will also be Lofven's first visit to Washington since Trump took office.
Lofven said he intends to strengthen relations between Sweden and the U.S. by focusing on job growth and innovation. "Our relations with the United States are important, both for our economy and our security. Through our broad cooperation we create growth and security for our citizens," he said in a press release on Feb. 20.
But that statement was made before Trump said he would impose a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum. The protectionist development in U.S. trade policy has roiled Republicans in Congress — including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said on Monday that he is "extremely worried" about the consequences of a potential trade war.
Trump, in a March 2 tweet, said that "trade wars are good, and easy to win."
Trump tweet: When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don't trade anymore-we win big. It's easy!
But one day after Trump announced the tariffs, the European Commission put forward a counter-proposal. Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the Commission, said on Friday that the EU will respond with its own tariffs if Trump follows through with his import taxes on steel and aluminum. If implemented, the EU's tariff's would affect a number of American staples: Kentucky bourbon, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Levi's blue jeans.
The announcement bred speculation that the EU was targeting products that would most severely affect the constituencies of certain Republican leaders.
Kentucky bourbon, as its name suggests, is a multibillion-dollar industry in the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And Harley-Davidson's headquarters are located in Wisconsin, the state represented by Speaker Ryan.