European Union prepared to retaliate against Trump's tariffs: commissioner

Laura Christensen
March 12, 2018

The steel tariff threat was seen by many to be an attempt by the Trump administration to pressure Canada and Mexico to complete the NAFTA talks - giving in to other us demands or giving up some of their own - rather than risk the punishing steel and aluminum duties.

"Working very quickly on a security agreement so we don't have to impose steel or aluminium tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia!".

In response, the Prime Minister also tweeted about the conversation, writing: "Great discussion today on security and trade".

Turnbull said Saturday that Australia and the United States have a fair and reciprocal trade relationship.

Turnbull told reporters that Trump "was able to confirm that he would not have to impose tariffs on Australian steel and aluminium", and that now the paperwork will be done "to put that direction into effect".

President Donald Trump has signed an order imposing sweeping new tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, despite an global outcry and warnings it could begin a trade war.

"As long-standing security partners of the United States, (the European Union and Japan) underlined to ambassador Lighthizer their expectation that European Union and Japanese exports to the USA would be exempted from the application of higher tariffs", an European Union statement said after the talks. South Korea is the third-largest steel exporter to the USA after Canada and Brazil. Argentina made a similar case.

"While we hope that Australia will win exemptions from the latest steel and aluminium tariffs, this would be only a partial victory", Mr Willox said on Friday.

Japan, the United States' top economic and military ally in Asia, was next in line.

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Trump has said the tariffs are needed for national security and to protect American manufacturing jobs.

An administration official told the Washington Post before Navarro's comments that Canada and Mexico would likely be exempted from tariffs for 30 days - not a whole lot of time to wrap up negotiations on the trade agreement that have lately stalled.

The 28-nation European Union, which negotiates trade policy as a bloc, has warned it will challenge the tariffs at the World Trade Organization.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (L) and Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko take part in a meeting with European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom to discuss steel overcapacity, in Brussels, Belgium March 10, 2018.

"If there is a violation, then we will seek consultations. In fact, the U.S. has a large trade surplus with Australia", Mr Turnbull told reporters in South Australia.

The EU has warned that it stands ready to slap "rebalancing" tariffs on about 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) worth of USA steel, agricultural and other products, like peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice.

In Sydney, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull cited Washington's strong relationship with Australia, adding: "There is no case for imposing tariffs on Australian steel".

While Trump should feel free to question certain trade agreements, his tool of choice, tariffs, would do far more harm than good. China accounts for only a small fraction of USA steel imports, but its rapid rise to produce half the world's steel has helped create a global glut that has driven down prices.

China's Ministry of Commerce said China would assess any damage caused by the United States move and "firmly defend its legitimate rights and interests". Tariffs would "seriously impact the normal order of global trade", the Commerce Ministry said.

Other reports by My Hot News

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