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Trump tariffs: European Union wants clarity on exemption

11 March 2018

The EU's top trade official said Friday that "dialogue" with Washington was the bloc's "prime option" as it seeks to win exemptions from US President Donald Trump's controversial new steel and aluminium tariffs.


The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28-nation EU, the world's biggest trading bloc, has said it is ready to impose safeguards, tariffs or quotas to protect its own steel and aluminium industries from products diverted to Europe because of the US measures.

The EU said in a statement that both Brussels and Tokyo had serious concerns about the USA tariffs.

Trade representatives for Japan and the European Union met with the USA trade representative Saturday in an effort to avoid a trade war over President Donald Trump's new tariffs on aluminum and steel.

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.

Any Japanese response, he said, would be in line with World Trade Organization rules: "If there is a violation, then we will seek consultations", Seko said.

Cecilia Malmstrom met with the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japan's Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko in Brussels.

Lighthizer, a loyalist to Trump's "America First" mantra, made no official comment after the talks, but the three sides did agree on a series of next steps to address the oversupply worldwide of steel and other materials, mainly by China. "It's clear. We need clarity", European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said on Friday.

"Certain types of bourbon are on the list as are other items such as peanut butter, cranberries, orange juice", Malmstroem said.

Trump 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 jobs and industry. However, it took on more urgency after Trump's tariff move.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday warned his United States counterpart Trump against forging ahead with the planned tariffs, saying they risked provoking a mutually destructive "trade war". He also added Australia to the list of likely carve-outs.

Mr Eggert then demanded European Union instate protective measures for the industry, adding: "We cannot stand by and watch the U.S. light a match under the global trading system".

Mr Trump has linked this to a new security agreement between the U.S. and Australia, which already have close military ties.

The EU and Japan past year formally agreed the broad outlines of a landmark trade deal that was announced as a direct challenge to the protectionism championed by Trump.

Trump tariffs: European Union wants clarity on exemption