June 21, 2018

European Union plots counterstrike to American tariffs

02 June 2018, 01:22 | Lionel James

The European Commission has said the EU should be permanently exempted from the tariffs

The European Commission has said the EU should be permanently exempted from the tariffs

It represents an apparent breakdown in Trudeau's efforts to find common ground with the tough-talking president.

Business leaders in Canada and the US have predicted dire economic consequences as a result of the decision.

Some of Trump's fellow Republicans also criticized the move. Temporary exemptions expired June 1, putting the tariffs into effect on those trading partners.

'These are two very different countries.

A White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the back and forth between both countries, said Trudeau spoke to Trump last Friday, and then Trudeau called Pence on Monday to follow up.

Earlier Thursday, Trudeau announced retaliatory tariffs in response to USA duties on steel and aluminum made in Canada, Mexico and European Union nations.

People are starting to see it, ' Trump said, asked NAFTA after his administration announced it was slapping steal and aluminum tariffs on allies Canada and Mexico as well as the European Union.

The White House has sought to include a "sunset" provision in the NAFTA renegotiation for months, but Canada and Mexico have always been cool to the idea, saying it would remove any economic security and certainty for businesses trying to comply with trade rules. "Now that we have clarity, the EU's response will be proportionate and in accordance with WTO rules".

Trump had taken a slightly less adversarial public approach with Canada and Mexico during the initial stages of the negotiations, but that ended several months ago. Both she and Trudeau sounded incredulous that Canada could ever be considered a national-security threat to such a close and important ally.

"We should not ever agree to blackmail of the nature that was proposed here", said Beatty, who was a federal cabinet minister at the time of the original Canada-U.S. free trade negotiation that was NAFTA's precursor.

The US today announced the end of exemption on steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from European Union, Canada and Mexico.

Sources say Trump will eventually have to consider the combination of the strong internal Republican and American business opposition to the tariffs, as well as the simple passage of time as the negative effects eventually trickle down to USA consumers.

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French President Emmanuel Macron called the move illegal. This can not be a unilateral transatlantic action by the Americans. "It's irrational", Beatty said in an interview. The list of US exports that European Union would impose additional tax on has already been decided, and notified to WTO.

According to the U.S. America, however, claims its tariffs are in the name of national security and that retaliation is therefore unjustified.

The long-threatened tactic is sure to cast a pall over the G7, with some observers saying a G6-plus-one scenario is already shaping up.

"It all depends on how the various parties react to the circumstances".

The Trump administration has demanded that Beijing make concessions and threatened to punish it for allegedly stealing United States technology by imposing tariffs on $50bn worth of imports from China.

Navarro said it was unfortunate that the US couldn't come to an agreement with Europe, Canada and Mexico, adding that giving any one country preferential treatment would result in a significant increase in domestic production of steel and aluminum in that country.

Donald Trump risks isolating the United States from its allies with his latest move.

"I believe the real challenge on NAFTA will be Mexico".

Henrik Adam, chief commercial officer of Tata Steel in Europe, said: "We have been, and will continue, to work closely with our customers on potential product exclusions as the vast majority of the products Tata Steel Europe exports to the U.S. can not be made by USA steel companies, such as our extra wide strip, battery quality hot rolled material as well as certain packaging steels".

Others say there's no way NAFTA's negotiators can look each other in the eye after Thursday's developments.

"I think Donald Trump has made a massive mistake", said Mr Ellis.

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