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In an Oval Office address to the United States about the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump announced a ban on all travel from Europe to the United States for a period of 30 days from this Friday night at midnight. It was easy to miss, but he also mentioned the prohibition would apply to trade and cargo.
The White House has spent most of the night clarifying details of the travel ban.
“After consulting with our top health professionals, I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and well-being of all Americans to keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight,” President Trump said.
“These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground. There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we’re discussing,” the President added.
If true, this would be a huge disruption to not only the transatlantic trade, but trade across the world.
Update: Almost immediately following the address, President Trump began walking back his statements in a tweet:
Hoping to get the payroll tax cut approved by both Republicans and Democrats, and please remember, very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe. The restriction stops people not goods.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2020
According to the Trump Administration, in 2018 U.S. goods imports from EU countries totaled $487.9 billion, accounting for 19.2% of overall U.S. imports and making the United States the EU’s the largest trading partner for exports.
President Trump said the restrictions did not apply to the United Kingdom.
President Trump’s full address is below (you can hear him make the remarks at about the 02:35 mark):
On the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website, a statement from Homeland Security’s Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf makes no mention of trade, saying the Presidential Proclamation applies only to certain individuals, mainly foreign nationals who visited certain countries within the last 14 days. Americans and their families don’t appear to be subject to the ban.
“Today President Donald J. Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation, which suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States,” said Wolf.
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