Sunday, 24 June, 2018

EU, Japan seek to be excluded from U.S. tariffs in talks

Oliver Contreras  Sipa USA  Newscom Oliver Contreras Sipa USA NewscomWell before he was president Donald Trump wanted tariffs
Andrew Cummings | 11 March, 2018, 01:33

The EU's Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has met with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer amid efforts for the European Union to secure an exemption from steel and aluminium imports imposed by US President Donald Trump.

"As a close security and trade partner of the US, the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures", Malmstrom, the 28-nation bloc's trade commissioner, said in a tweet after a meeting with the U.S.'s top trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer.

European Commissioner Malmstrom, who coordinates policy for the 28-nation EU, the world's biggest trading bloc, said she stood ready to go to the WTO, the global trade arbiter, to impose the bloc's own safeguards within 90 days.

He said counter-measures would include European tariffs on US exported oranges, tobacco and bourbon.

Saturday's meetings in Brussels had been previously planned but took on greater importance because of Trump's announcement of a 25-percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

"This is not a trade negotiation", Katainen said.

The talks, initially set to address China's over-supply of steel, have always been in the diary but after Trump's dramatic announcement they are now a de facto crisis meeting. European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said it would be "a meeting, not THE meeting".

Brussels has already drawn up a hitlist of flagship American products to target for countermeasures if its exports are affected by the tariffs including peanut butter, bourbon whiskey and orange juice.

Source Quinnipiac University
Source Quinnipiac University

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

The U.S. leader's proposal for a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum has rattled global markets as well as prominent congressional Republicans and business leaders anxious about the potential economic fallout. He also added Australia to the list of likely carve-outs.

This shed light Trump's attacks against Germany - the biggest economy in the European Union - that have accused Berlin of contributing much less than the United States towards the funding of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Complicating matters, Trump indicated that the sparing of Australia was linked to an unspecified "security agreement" outside of trade policy.

"If there is a violation, then we will seek consultations".

Earlier this week she warned the U.S. tariffs could jeopardise thousands of European 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.

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

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