Emmanuel Macron’s right-hand man in Washington issued a stark prediction set to send shockwaves across the EU.
Gérard Araud, who has been serving as ambassador in the US since 2014, said there is a strong chance Mr Trump will renew his threat to impose duties on European autos very soon – and may even impose tariffs if he gets fed up with lengthy talks.
He said: “The cars will be certainly a sort of test case in the coming weeks and months on this European-American relationship — if the Americans go back to this idea of tariffs on cars or not.
Explaining talks “will take months to negotiate”, he added: “We are not sure that the president — your president — has the patience to wait for it.
“So the coming months will be critical to whether we have a virtuous negotiation starting between the US and Europe and we forget the threats the tariffs and the trade war, or whether we go back to a trade war with the Europeans.”
The US president pledged in July, after crunch talks with the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, not to impose new tariffs on the EU while the two sides are undergoing trade negotiations.
In the agreement struck, the parts vowed to work towards “zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods”.
However, just last month he threatened to hit European cars with a 25 percent tax.
Speaking at a rally in Charleston, West Virginia, he said: “We are going to put a tax of 25 percent on every car that comes in from the European Union.”
Mr Trump has often branded unfair the low taxes on imported cars in the US, blaming them for the decaying state of the American car market.
In May, the US department of commerce launched an investigation into automobile imports to determine whether they “threaten to impair the national security” of the country.
Mr Trump’s fury is especially directed towards German cars, who in his opinion fill the streets of US main cities.
He said: “When you walk down Fifth Avenue, everybody has a Mercedes-Benz parked in front of his house.
“You were very unfair to the USA. It isn’t mutual.
“How many Chevrolets do you see in Germany?
“Not many, maybe none, you don’t see anything at all over there. It’s a one-way street.
“I love free trade, but it must be a smart trade for me to call it fair.”
German carmakers sold 1.35 million vehicles in the United States in 2017 alone, about eight percent of total US car sales.
Mr Araud commented on Mr Trump’s desire to slash the presence of European vehicles in the US, saying: “There is an obsession by the president on trade about cars.
“Every time he’s talking about trade with the Europeans, he’s talking about BMW or Mercedes.”