According to the European Union’s trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, the slapping of tariffs on European steel and aluminum is a “dangerous game” that the US is playing.
The economic recovery of the EU would be negatively impacted by the move by US President Donald Trump while the US consumers would also suffer, Malmstrom warned.
A 10-page list of tariffs on US goods was issued by the EU. the list contains products ranging from Harley-Davidson motorcycles to bourbon.
Retaliatory moves against the tariffs are also being planned by the Canada and Mexico.
While claiming that the tariffs on US imports were required as “we cannot just take these tariffs and stay silent”, Malmstrom also said the US move would be challenged by the EU at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
However, the commissioner clarified that US and Eu were not at a trade war despite the EU’s “rebalancing” measure.
“What we are in is a very difficult situation,” Malmstrom said. She also clarified that the onus of diffusing the situation lay with the US where it has to withdraw its measures against the EU.
The Trump tariffs were placed to secure the national security of US according to the Trump administration and to protect the domestic steel industry there. Trump also raised several issues about the trade barriers for US in Europe and elsewhere
His call for “fair trade” was repeated by Trump after the speech by Malmstroms.
“We’re going to have it for our workers and for our companies and you know what? The other side understands this,” he said.
While dismissing all concerns about alienating diplomatic allies, Trump sounded confidence in the US economy about being able to cope up with the tariffs and the counter measures by its allies.
“They’re our allies but they take advantage of us economically,” he said.
Trump had bene called by French President Emmanuel Macron who conveyed ot the US president that the tariffs were “illegal”. The need for the US to “rebalance trade” with the EU was reiterated by Trump during the telephonic conversation with Macron.
The 25% levy on steel was “patently absurd”, said UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.
“It would be a great pity if we ended up in a tit-for-tat trade dispute with our closest allies”, Fox added.
The tariffs were “no way to treat your friend”, said Gareth Stace, head of trade body UK Steel, and added that the government should take measures to ensure safety of the 31000 jobs in the industry.
The US measure was “totally unacceptable”, said Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, while rejecting the US claim of Canada posing any form of threat to the national security of the US.
Tariff on US goods imported in Canada worth $13bn is being planned to be imposed from July 1. Consumer products such as yoghurt, whiskey and coffee in addition to American steel would be included in the list of US goods to be taxed.
Some prominent US Republicans have also voiced their opposition to the Trump tariffs. House Speaker Paul Ryan said that the move “targets America’s allies when we should be working with them to address the unfair trading practices of countries like China”.
(Adapted from BBC.com)