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

11 March 2018

Along with a huge range of steel products, the EU's hit list of flagship American products lined up for counter measures includes peanut butter, bourbon whiskey and denim jeans.

But U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign on Thursday or Friday a proclamation to establish tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. The EU will seek clarification on the mandate and basis for exclusion.

Even though China accounts for only a small fraction of USA steel imports, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the US president is being unwise in launching a trade war.

"This is protectionism which offends close partners like the European Union and Germany and which limits free trade", Brigitte Zypries said in a statement.

The European Union is hoping it will be granted an exemption from USA import tariffs and believes that an exemption for one EU country would apply to the bloc as a whole, European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said on Thursday.

The EU said it was considering "all possible responses" including dispute settlement and rebalancing measures allowed under WTO rules, according to the trade official. However, US President Donald Trump, who justified the measures by saying they would protect US national security interests, said "real friends" of the US might be exempt.

"We expressed our concern".

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Announcing the tariffs, Trump said Canada and Mexico would be excluded and other countries could negotiate exemptions, but he singled out Germany for criticism.The British government said the problem of global over-capacity in steel needed all sides to work together, insisting "tariffs are not the right way" to tackle the issue.

"The loss of exports to the US, combined with an expected massive import surge in the European Union, could cost tens of thousands of jobs in the European Union steel industry and related sectors", said Axel Eggert, head of steel association EUROFER.

"President Trump has recently said and I quote, 'trade wars are good and easy to win, '" Tusk told a press conference in Luxembourg.

Yesterday's announcement from the White House that it would slap levies on imports of the key metals was met with anger from major trading partners like China, Japan and the EU. He also added Australia to the list of likely carve-outs.

But the US has already thrown up barriers to Chinese imports. China accounts for only a small fraction of US steel imports, but its rapid rise to produce half the world's steel has helped create a global glut that has driven down prices.

South Korea, the third largest steel exporter to the United States and a strategic ally on the Korean peninsula, called for calm.

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