May 25, 2018

European Union hoping for clarity from USA trade talks in Brussels

12 March 2018, 04:38 | Erma Lawrence

Fears of a trade war after Trump imposes new steel tariffs

This time, China can fight back against tariffs

Trump has said Canada and Mexico are exempt for now, and other countries could be spared if they can convince the administration their steel and aluminum exports don't threaten American jobs and industry.

The EU's top trade official Cecilia Malmstroem will meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Brussels along with Japanese Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko.

At a news conference after the talks, Seko said he told Lighthizer that the tariffs are regrettable as they could adversely affect the entire global economy. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that Japan's steel and aluminum shipments posed no threat to USA national security.

"The U.S. steel industry has been deluged for 40 years with these illegal imports of steel", Gallagher said.

There would be a reduction in tariffs for countries that "treat us fairly", he said but said "many of the countries that treat us the worst on trade and on military are our allies".

She said: "As a close security and trade partner of the U.S., the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures".

Earlier, during a cabinet meeting, Trump vowed flexibility on the trade barriers, telling reporters that he could change the tariffs "up or down depending on the country". He called for dialogue based on the rules of the World Trade Organization to avoid a descent into a trade war.

The rumblings of a trade war continue as the European Union warns Trump that they will seek "re-balancing measures" should the new steel and aluminum tariffs include European Union countries.

Trump signed proclamations Thursday imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum, with the new taxes set to go into effect in two weeks.

The White House has justified its action on tariffs by making use of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which allows the executive branch to make implement tariffs unilaterally if doing so is a matter of national security.

The EU exported about 5.5 million tons of steel to the US previous year.

China's Commerce Ministry said it "firmly opposes" the United States president's move but gave no indication whether Beijing might make good on threats to retaliate.

"A good example of that is a steel order that we were to place last week that was $125,000 turned into a steel order of $150,000", said Cloacina CEO Troy Ellison.

"Ultimately, we have a very healthy trade and investment relationship with the United States, especially the type that President Trump likes, and off the back of that it's understandable that the president resolved that Australia wouldn't be subject to these tariffs", Mr Ciobo told the ABC's Insiders programme on Sunday (March 10).

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the USA wants to negotiate exemptions for steel and aluminum tariffs before they take effect in two weeks as pressure grows from allies who are threatening retaliation if the duties are applied to them.

European industry associations called on Malmstrom to react to the tariffs.

While carrying a message to Washington to push forward a diplomatic breakthrough over North Korea, South Korea's national security office chief, Chung Eui-yong, requested USA officials to support Seoul's request for a waiver, a presidential spokesperson said. "And in the case of Europe, it's over $100 billion a year, and therefore, they have much more to lose in a trade war than we do".

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