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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
leo in the usa

Taoiseach says no one will gain from a trade war between US and Europe

The Taoiseach told an audience in Washington DC that Ireland is a “global country” at the centre of a “rapidly changing world”.

Updated 9pm

TAOISEACH LEO Varadkar has urged Europe and the US to step back from the brink of a trade war.

Speaking at the opening event of his five-day stay in Washington DC, the Taoiseach told an audience at Brookings Institution that Ireland has strong links with parts of the world to which the Irish have migrated – including the United States.

This is the reason why Ireland believes in “free trade and free enterprise”, he explained.

Trade war threats 

Touching on the issue of the day – the threat of a trade war between the US and Europe – Varadkar said Ireland has strong links with parts of the world to which the Irish have migrated – including the United States. This is the reason why Ireland believes in “free trade and free enterprise”, he explained.

US President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Saturday that the US was ready to drop its tariffs if the EU lowered its “horrific” rates on American products calling them unfair to  farmers and other businesses.

Very much flying the European flag in the US capital today, Varadkar said he would like Ireland to take a leadership role and be “a bridge between the EU and the United States”.

I fear that there is a danger that the EU and the United States may drift apart due to growing divisions on trade, tax, climate change and many other areas.
Such a development would not be in the interests of the people on either side of the Atlantic. Ireland can and is willing to act as a bridge between the US and the EU to interpret one to the other and to help ensure that positive and constructive relations are maintained and developed.

The Taoiseach was also quick to point out that trade works both ways – for both America and Ireland, stating that every week, €2 billion in goods and services is traded in both directions across the Atlantic.

“While the story of US investment in Ireland – as a gateway to the EU Single Market – is well known, it is often less well appreciated that the flow of investment is strong in both directions,” he said, highlighting that Irish companies provide more than 100,000 jobs in the US.

As one of the most open small economies in the world, Ireland is a strong proponent of free trade and free enterprise, said the Taoiseach.

He added:

Alongside our EU partners, we oppose any steps that raise barriers to trade, whether through the imposition of tariffs or otherwise. Trade barriers make losers of us all.
As the President of the European Council Donald Tusk has said, trade wars are bad, and they are easy to lose.

The Taoiseach said Ireland is a “global country” at the centre of a “rapidly changing world”.

Brexit and key challenges 

Giving a speech on Ireland’s role in the world and relations between the European Union and the United States, he said there are many challenges facing Ireland, including:

1. Brexit – the UK’s decision to leave the EU
2. Increased regional instability fuelled by geopolitical tensions and conflicts
3. Changing approaches to international trade – the topic of the day here in Washington DC
4. The challenges for governments of counteracting the rise of international terrorism in all its manifestations, including cyber terrorism
5. Uncontrolled mass migration

The Taoiseach clarified that he was referring to the migrant crisis in Europe when referring to the last point.

A Conversation with Leo Varadkar, T.D. Prime Minister of Ireland - 2018 SXSW Conference and Festivals Steve Rogers Photography Steve Rogers Photography

As promised, Varadkar also made the case for Ireland getting a seat on the United Nations Security Council for the 2021-2022 term.

He said Ireland has a long tradition of support for the UN on international peace and security issues, with Irish peacekeeping troops currently taking part in six UN peacekeeping missions around the world.’s political reporter Christina Finn will be bringing you all the latest updates from Leo Varadkar’s visit to Washington this week, including his meeting with US President Donald Trump on Thursday.

Stay up-to-date by following @ChristinaFinn8@TJ_Politics  and’s Facebook page.  

‘I carry Ireland with me everywhere I go’: Leo likely to indulge Pence and Ryan with talk of Irish roots>

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