Trade Representatives From US, EU, Japan Discuss New Metal Tariffs

Katrina Barker
March 11, 2018

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.

EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who coordinates policy for the world's biggest trading bloc, said she shared US concerns about overcapacity in the steel sector but did not believe in tariffs as a way to solve the problem.

Trump signed proclamations Thursday imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum, with the new taxes set to go into effect in two weeks.

Europe wants to avoid a trade war with the United States over its plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, but is preparing immediate counter-measures just in case, European Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said.

Canada and Mexico will be exempt from the tariffs initially, and Australia is optimistic that it too will gain exemption.

Brussels has gone the furthest in fighting back against Washington's shock measures, loudly announcing a list of U.S. products to hit with countermeasures if its exports are affected by the tariffs.

The EU's top trade official said the USA failed on Saturday to provide full clarity on how Europe could be spared from Washington's controversial steel and aluminium tariffs, but said talks would continue next week.

"We expressed our concern".

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

Seko did not go into what conditions might allow Japan to evade tariffs and, asked if Lighthizer had brought up the USA trade deficit with Japan, Seko said no. "We will have to protect our industry with rebalancing measures, safeguard", she added when asked if she would consider taking the dispute to the worldwide trade regulator.

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

It has also opened the door to a slew of complaints to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which has never ruled on a dispute involving trade restrictions justified on national-security grounds.

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

There was still "no immediate clarity on the exact US procedure on exemption", Malmstrom, the 28-nation bloc's trade commissioner, said after the meeting that also included Japanese trade minister Hiroshige Seko.

Key U.S. trading partners and businesses have warned the tariffs could backfire, provoking a trade war and hurting allies like the European Union and Japan more than China, their main target.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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