European Union seeks clarity on whether it will be hit by U.S. tariffs

Pauline Gross
March 12, 2018

Trump, who cited a rarely invoked national security section of U.S. trade law as the legal basis for his decision, said he aims to protect the USA industries.

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

Brazil, which after Canada is the biggest steel supplier to the USA market, said it wanted to join the list.

After exempting Canada and Mexico, Trump appeared to add Australia to the list Friday, which led to Turnbull's announcement.

Trump said the move would spur economic growth in the region.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom take part in a meeting to discuss steel overcapacity, in Brussels, Belgium March 10, 2018.

He said those exclusions would apply because "we can't make that product or there are national security issues".

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

Malmstrom told reporters the European Union was ready to complain to the World Trade Organization, and retaliate within 90 days.

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The American president made his comments after crunch talks in Brussels between European Union negotiators and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in an effort to defuse a bitter row that many fear could turn into an all-out trade war.

Canada, the top source of steel to the USA market, has already vowed to take "appropriate, responsive measures" if the Trump administration goes ahead with the tariffs.

According to the report, Australian Ambassador to Washington Joe Hockey, called Norman on behalf of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to give Turnbull Trump's personal cell phone number.

Brussels has reminded Trump that tit-for-tat trade measures deepened the Great Depression in the 1930s and in the 2000s cost thousands of United States jobs when Washington imposed tariffs on European steel.

Turnbull said Saturday that Australia and the United States have a fair and reciprocal trade relationship. The latest in a series of Trump's "America First" initiatives, the decision has met swift, strong backlash from major trading nations, including Washington's security allies.

Despite being one of the world's largest suppliers of raw commodity, iron ore, Australia is a small global exporter of steel.

China's steel and metals associations urged the government to retaliate, citing imports from the United States ranging from stainless steel to coal, agricultural products and electronics.

Beijing vowed to "firmly defend its legitimate rights and interests". It was the most explicit threat yet from the country in the escalating trade row.

Trump cited national security concerns as the legal basis for the tariffs, a permissible reason under WTO rules.

Other reports by GizPress

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