Trump to EU: We'll drop our tariffs if you drop yours

Marsha Scott
March 11, 2018

As U.S. President Donald Trump signed proclamations Thursday imposing 25 per cent tariffs on steel imports and 10 per cent for aluminium for nearly every country but Mexico and Canada, other nations have expressed their desire to join the lucky duo.

Trump's announcement of duties of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminium has stung the European Union and triggered warnings of an all-out global trade war.

On the other hand, Brazil's Acting Trade Minister, Marcos Jorge, said that his office is setting up a plan "to exclude Brazil from this measure". Japan has warned of the dangers of tit-for-tat measures.

She will meet with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko in Brussels on Saturday when she will ask whether the European Union is to be included in the tariffs.

The talks, initially set to address China's oversupply of steel, have always been in the diary, but after Trump's dramatic announcement, they became the first opportunity to defuse the crisis.

"Dialogue is always the prime option of the European Union", Malmstroem told reporters on Friday, saying Brussels was "counting on being excluded" from the new duties.

European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: "We all have to choose whether we want rules-based trade - which supports rules-based world order - or do we want rule of force, or the rule of the strongest, which we have now seen?" "We trust and hope that the United Kingdom government will support such measures in due course", said its director Gareth Stace.

"We are an ally, not a threat", Katainen said.

We must ensure our market is not now destabilised by millions of tonnes of steel diverted away from the the EU.

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Germany - singled out for particular criticism by Trump - accused Washington of protectionism, calling the tariffs an "affront to close partners".

Malmstrom won support from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Trump has said the tariffs, which will come into effect 15 days after he formally unveiled them Thursday, will not initially apply to Canada and Mexico.

The EU is also maintaining a threat of counter-measures that would target U.S. imports ranging from maize to motorcycles, and may publish its list next week to allow industry and other interested parties to give their input.

Mr Trump justified his move by invoking a rarely used United States law authorising presidential action against imports that undermine national security.

Brazil, which after Canada is the biggest steel supplier to the USA market, said it wanted to join the exemption list, and Argentina made a similar case.

European steel and aluminium associations have warned that the USA tariffs could cost their sectors thousands of jobs.

Brussels is also looking at "safeguard" measures to protect its industry - restricting the bloc's imports of steel and aluminium to stop foreign supplies flooding the European market, which is allowed under World Trade Organization rules.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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