Trump charges Ross with pushing European Union to lower tariffs, European Union demurs

Casey Dawson
March 13, 2018

Canada, the top supplier of steel and aluminum to the USA markets, and Mexico have been temporarily exempted from the tariffs until trilateral continental trade talks conclude.

'Not fair to our farmers and manufacturers'. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker responded with a list of threatened tariffs on U.S products, lamenting: "This is basically a stupid process".

Donald Trump has said his commerce secretary will be talking to the European Union about tariffs the U.S. president argues have been unfair to America.

"Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will be speaking with representatives of the European Union about eliminating the large Tariffs and Barriers they use against the United States of America".

"In some places, trade has been blamed for the pains of globalization, others use it as a scapegoat and insist that we can hide behind walls and borders", EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said at a conference in Brussels on Monday.

She also says the tariff discussions and NAFTA negotiations are completely different, adding that, "We treat them on totally separate tracks".

The jab from Brussels came after the US tycoon singled out Europe in the surging trade dispute, threatening to tax German cars if the European Union doesn't lower barriers to USA products. Canada ranks first and Mexico fourth, the data showed.

German chancellor Angela Market also called for the European Union to be exempted from the tariffs.

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And Warner questioned whether tariffs will resurrect the U.S. steel industry the way Trump is boasting they will.

Trump is not a NAFTA fan.

European steel and aluminum associations have warned that the USA tariffs could cost their sectors thousands of jobs.

Eliminating these tariffs was the subject of the negotiations for a free trade agreement between the European Union and the US which stalled under Trump, according to Malmstrom.

Trump signed tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports on Thursday. However, it took on more urgency after Trump's tariff move.

The EU has already warned that it is preparing counter measures if it is not exempted from the tariffs, while officials from China said over the weekend that a trade war would only bring "disaster" to the global economy. "While we are grateful that our trading partners, Canada and Mexico, are now exempt, it is our view that these tariffs will quickly become a tax on the fix and maintenance of vehicles, a tax that will ultimately be paid for in higher fix prices by the American auto owner".

But economists said the net impact of the tariffs on the US economy is negative, because they benefit just a small slice of the economy, while harming almost everyone else.

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