Japan and European Union spar with U.S. in Brussels over trade and tariffs

Cheryl Sanders
March 12, 2018

Trump cited national security concerns as his reason for imposing a 25 percent tax on US steel imports and a 10 percent tax on aluminum imports, saying that imports are "killing" the USA steel and aluminum industries and a nation that wants to defend itself must have a viable metals sector capable of supplying weapons manufacturers.

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

President Trump said other USA allies will be allowed to apply for an exemption from the tariff increases, as long as "their products no longer threaten our security".

Area steel producers declined to discuss President Donald Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs announced Thursday, but many steel workers said they believe the tariffs would bring back jobs.

Along with a huge range of steel products, the EU's hit list of flagship American products lined up for counter measures includes peanut butter, bourbon, whiskey and denim jeans.

Trump has said the tariffs, which will come into effect 15 days after he formally unveiled them Thursday, will not initially apply to Canada and Mexico.

For now, Trump agreed to exempt, Canada and Mexico and held out the possibility of later excluding allies like Australia.

European steel and aluminium associations have warned that the US tariffs could cost their sectors thousands of jobs. "We are a partner of the United States in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and NORAD, and Canada's steel and aluminum industries provide a critical source of supply for American businesses and for American defence needs".

European Union and Japanese officials are now pushing for them to be included in the exclusions.

The EU produces 177 million tonnes of steel and exports around 5 million tonnes of steel to the United States every year, a small share, overall.

He had earlier in the day singled out Germany for criticism.

Canada's foreign affairs minister termed the two things "separate issues" while Mexico's economy ministry said "the negotiation of the NAFTA should not be subject to conditions outside the process".

"Many of the countries that treat us the worst on trade and on the military are our allies, as they call them", he said. Trump tweeted, making a likely reference to their phone talks last week.

Under World Trade Organization rules, such counter-measures have to be in place within 90 days of the US tariffs entering force.

"Members of the Senate, myself included, are concerned about the scope of the proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum and their impact on American citizens and businesses, including many I represent in Kentucky", McConnell said.

Japan's top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the move could harm the global trading system and the entire world economy and said Tokyo would seek an exemption.

U.S. Steel is down 6.8 percent. However, he will "remain open to moderating and removing the tariffs" from any other countries, as long as we can "agree on a way to insure that their products no longer threaten our security".

Concessions could be required to protect the $7 billion in steel and aluminum exports the European Union sends each year to the United States. "We can not possibly be a security threat to the United States so we are counting on being excluded".

Other reports by iNewsToday