Trump has argued that international trade deals hurt US workers and the country’s competitiveness, but it is not clear to what extent Mr Trump the president will resemble Mr Trump the campaigner.
“If the world’s biggest economy follows a protectionist course, its effects will be felt around the world. We can only hope that his words are not followed by corresponding deeds,” said Thilo Brodtmann, head of Germany’s VDMA engineering association.
EU and US officials have for more than three years been negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), with Brussels and Washington recognising it will not now be completed under Barack Obama’s term as earlier envisaged.
EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom said it was too early to assess the impact of Trump’s victory, but a break was inevitable whoever had won.
“How long will that break be? Impossible to say. There’s a lot of uncertainty,” she said.
Anthony Gardner, US ambassador to the EU, told Reuters that TTIP remained important for economic and strategic reasons, recognising that the challenge was to convince more people that free trade is an opportunity, not a risk.
Ms Malmstrom has previously said both sides should make as much progress as possible so that the work can be quickly picked up under the next president.
However, it appears unlikely that trade will be high on Mr Trump’s list of priorities.