European Union seeks clarity on whether it will be hit by USA tariffs

11 March 2018, 01:01 | Isaac Mcdaniel

US Treasury

Foreign Treasury Holdings

He said Canada and Mexico are exempt for now, and other countries could be spared if they can convince the administration that their steel and aluminum exports don't threaten American industry. Japan has warned of the dangers of tit-for-tat measures.

The EU's trade chief says talks with U.S. President Donald Trump's envoy failed to secure an exemption for EU steel from upcoming tariffs that have sparked fears of a new trade war.

Trump insisted in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron - a leading European Union player staunchly opposed to the tariffs - that the "decision is necessary and appropriate to protect national security".

The European Union expects to be excluded from U.S. steel and aluminium tariffs but will go to the World Trade Organization to impose its own measures if Washington presses ahead, the EU's trade chief has said. The meeting has been scheduled amid fears the tariffs could elicit trade war between USA and its allies.

She predicted a "long day" of talks on Saturday, while European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen sought to play down expectations, saying it was "a meeting, not THE meeting".

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.

She noted that under WTO rules, once Trump's tariffs come into force in two weeks, the European Union would have 90 days to enact the measures.

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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.

The meetings had been previously planned but took on greater importance because of the United States president's announcement of a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium imports. But he exempted Canada and Mexico and held out the possibility of excluding other allies.

The EU is also maintaining a threat of counter-measures that would target USA imports ranging from maize to motorcycles and may publish its list next week to allow industry and other interested parties to give their input. If they drop their horrific barriers & tariffs on USA products going in, we will likewise drop ours.

The EU exported about 5.5 million tonnes of steel to the United States previous year.

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

Four German industry groups have warned against a "spiral of protectionism", urging the German government and the European Union to remain committed to free trade. The U.S. bought 5 percent of Japan's steel past year but just 1.1 percent of China's steel. European steel producers are concerned about a loss of market access, but also that steel from elsewhere will flood in.

The EU hopes to convince the U.S. that introducing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports is "not the right move", but is ready to act should any such measures be implemented.



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