European Union slams trade 'bullies' as Trump tariffs row deepens

Malcolm Turnbull

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will speak with representatives of the European Union about eliminating tariffs on US imports, President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Monday morning.

Japan and Australia are among others asking to be exempt from the proposed import duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent of aluminum.

The US president said that Brussels uses "artificial barriers" to prevent American products from reaching the continent. That will be hard according to people actually watching the negotiations as Trump's trade team, led by trade czar Robert Lighthizer and commerce chief Wilbur Ross, are asking for things that Canada and Mexico would never give.

He added, "Working very quickly on a security agreement so we don't have to impose steel or aluminum tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia!" The US trade action could force Indian steel exporters to either scout for new markets or possibly counter flooding of products into the local market by other major steel exporters including from Europe. The Commission spokesman also pointed to United States import duties of up to 48 per cent on shoes, 12 per cent on textiles and 164 per cent on groundnuts. Amid fears of a global trade war, the 28-member European Union is among those seeking exemptions. Canada is the No. 1 supplier of both metals to the U.S. It represents about 41 percent of aluminum imports and 16 percent of steel imports.

Over the weekend, the bloc met with USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer to resolve the tariff row, but did not come to an agreement.

The European Union on Monday urged US President Donald Trump not to head down "a dead end" road of protectionism and warned of a damaging trade war over his new steel and aluminum tariffs.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution says only Congress has the power to set tariffs.

Tokyo and Brussels rejected any suggestion that their exports to the United States threatened the country's national security - Trump's justification for imposing the tariffs despite warnings at home and overseas that they could provoke a global trade war.

Mexico recognizes the problem of global steel oversupply and will keep seeking solutions, but NAFTA talks shouldn't be subject to other domestic U.S. policies, the country's Economy Ministry said in a statement.

He said the tariffs would correct trading imbalances going back decades that had harmed the USA job market and threatened United States manufacturers.

Canada is the United States' largest foreign provider of steel and aluminum, with about 85 per cent of Canadian exports being directed to that country.

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