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USA stocks opened slightly lower on Wednesday as investors were cautious ahead of a key trade-related meeting between President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The imposition of punishing tariffs on imported goods has been a favored tactic by Trump, but it has prompted USA partners to retaliate, creating risks for the economy.

Juncker came to Washington for a last-ditch bid to avoid USA tariffs on cars.

During talks with Mr Juncker, Mr Trump said the USA wants a "fair trade deal" with the EU.

It is unclear what Mr Trump's approach will be in the talks.

Trump said the USA and European Union had also agreed to work together to reform the World Trade Organization to address some of his complaints about China, as well as the behavior of state-owned enterprises, and steel overcapacity.

He also said, "we're starting the negotiation right now, but we know very much where it's going".

"The cost will be about $20 billion", - said Malmstrom.

He told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk: "We want to avoid a further escalation of the trade dispute (into) a trade war". "They've gotten free trade agreements recently done with Canada and Mexico, and we're sitting on the sidelines.We need those agreements in place".

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Donald Trump heard an earful on Tuesday from senators in his own party after his administration pledged to provide up to $12 billion in aid for US farmers to shield them from the effects of trade disputes cultivated by the White House itself.

Steel stocks fell Thursday after President Donald Trump suggested he would backpedal in a trade face-off with the European Union that has sent prices of the metal soaring.

After Trump announced plans to impose $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports, Beijing retaliated with plans to impose tariffs on a range of agricultural products from the USA including soybeans, grains, meats and dairy products.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue described the programs as "a firm statement that other nations can not bully our agricultural producers to force the United States to cave in". "We have identified a number of areas on which to work together".

Juncker's visit comes amid an escalating trade war between the USA and the E.U.in the wake of Trump's decision to slap tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel last month.

"If not, the EU Commission is preparing a rather long list of many of American goods. That means the ball is in these other countries' court".

Before departing for Kansas City, Trump tweeted that USA trade partners need to either negotiate a "fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs". Trump could impose auto tariffs on national security grounds once Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross completes a required investigation, which could come anytime before a deadline by early next year.

China is the biggest buyer of USA soybeans, importing more than $12.4 billion worth of the oil seed in 2017, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

"I can't think of another time when you had as many battles and particularly as many battles with no resolution in sight", said Edward Alden, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.