First encounter with Belgian media for new US ambassador

The new American ambassador to Belgium, Ronald Gidwitz, has met with the press for the first time since he arrived in Brussels on 4 July.  Mr Gidwitz was upbeat about the prospects of a new trade accord between the US and the EU.

In July President Trump and European commission president Juncker agreed to discuss the scrapping of customs charges and other trade obstacles including subsidies on industrial goods, except those on cars.  The commitment followed a brief trade war in which both blocs introduced higher import levies.  Talks on a trade agreement are still to start, but Mr Gidwitz says the accord between Mexico and the US augers well.

The new US ambassador also told reporters he was eager to encourage Belgium to comply with its NATO commitments and increase defence spending to 2% of national output.  Mr Gidwitz also backed the US F-35 fighter jet as a successor for the F-16s.

Together with Spain Belgium stands on the penultimate place in a defence spending ranking forking out a mere 0.93% of GDP in 2018.