Varadkar: Trump should embrace free trade

Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has urged Donald Trump to embrace free trade.

The protectionist US administration has been engaged in a tariff war with China.

It pulled back from escalating aggressive action towards the EU last year.

Mr Varadkar told the US President: “Free trade and free enterprise make everyone better off in the round.

“And I would like to keep it that way.”

US import tariffs were imposed on European steel last year.

A threat to act against cars was put aside following talks between Mr Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Mr Varadkar met Mr Trump at the White House on Thursday to mark St Patrick’s Day.

Earlier, Mr Trump said: “Tariffs are a very, very great way of getting people to the table.”

He said China had been very “responsible and reasonable” during recent discussions.

Decades of investment by US firms in Ireland have helped transform the Republic from one of the least developed in Europe to one of the most prosperous, the Irish premier said.

He told the president: “We thank you and will never forget your role in making that economic transformation possible.”

Mr Varadkar said their economic relationship was very much a “two-way street”.

Leo Varadkar and Donald Trump
Leo Varadkar and Donald Trump

Almost 100,000 Americans across 50 states are employed in Irish-owned companies, with more jobs to come.

A total of 119 Irish firms have invested in the US since Mr Trump took office.

Investment by Irish companies in the United States has trebled in recent years.

The Taoiseach again referenced the plight of Irish illegal migrants in the US.

Creating a path to citizenship for people who may have lived in the country for decades has been wrangled over in Congress for years.

Mr Varadkar said: “Mr President, our history is shared, our future is entwined.

“And so I believe that future generations of our citizens should have the same opportunity to enrich one another’s societies as past generations have.

“No nation at the moment with as many ties as Ireland has to the United States has so few pathways to legal immigration.

“Whenever we’ve talked about this…we’ve found agreement.”

Leo Varadkar visits the US
Leo Varadkar visits the US

He thanked Mr Trump and Congress for supporting a new E3 visa programme, which would allow a limited number of Irish people to go to the US annually.

“We know that making America great again will not mean forgetting or losing sight of what makes it great already.”

The Taoiseach presented the president with the traditional shamrock bowl at the White House St Patrick’s Day reception.