EU, Japan push for Trump tariff exemptions

Marie Harrington
March 11, 2018

Asked at the conference whether she was ready to react if the 28-country European Union was included in the USA tariffs, Ms Malmstrom said she stood ready to go to the WTO, the global trade arbiter, to impose the bloc's own safeguards within 90 days.

The EU's trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Brussels on Saturday but the EU executive said the talks would not solve all the problems.

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 were given specific exemptions from the tariffs for an indefinite period while negotiations continue on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The EU is also maintaining a threat of counter-measures that would target US imports ranging from maize to motorcycles, and may publish its list next week to allow industry and other interested parties to give their input.

President Donald Trump's announcement of duties of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminium has stung the European Union, along with other major partners including Japan, whose Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko also attended the talks in Brussels.

She said discussions would continue next week.

"We are an ally, not a threat", he said, rejecting any hint that the bloc's exports threatened USA national security - Trump's justification for imposing the tariffs.

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.

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"We expressed our concern".

Japan's government has warned the measure could hurt its economic relations with the U.S. But ahead of Saturday's talks, Seko also cautioned that "falling to exchanges of unilateral measures will not be in the interest of any country", according to the Kyodo news agency.

"We call for calm-headed behaviour", he told reporters.

Japan, he said, would stick to World Trade Organization rules in terms of taking measures. "We will look at the impact on Japanese businesses and make a final decision".

Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen warned Washington on Friday not to expect any concessions to win an exemption.

"We're not looking for a trade war", Ross said.

European Commissioner Malmstrom, who coordinates policy for the 28-nation EU, the world's biggest trading bloc, said she stood ready to go to the WTO, the worldwide trade arbiter, to impose the bloc's own safeguards within 90 days.

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

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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