Eli Ridder | The Avro Post
The European Union has criticized tariffs set in place on steel and aluminum by United States President Donald Trump on Thursday, with several countries vying for continental exemption from the harsh levies.
Germany, France and the EU executive have warned against the possibility of a trade war, with officials threatening to establish countermeasures when the 25 per cent levy on steel and the 10 per cent tariff on aluminum is activated on Mar. 23.
Canada and Mexico were initially exempt from the wide-sweeping tariffs, but that is only dependent on whether Mr. Trump finds a new North American Free Trade Agreement to be satisfactory.
Australia gained exemption from the tariffs on Friday, with Trump saying he will not impose the levies on the ‘great nation of Australia’, fulfilling a promise he made to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told business leaders gathered in Munich that “the best option would be [for the EU] to be excluded,” saying that no country could be victor in a “race to the bottom”, according to European media.
Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said France “regrets” the incoming Trump tariffs, tweeting that “there are only losers in a trade war.”
“With our EU partners, we will assess consequences on our industries and agree [to an] appropriate response.”
Japan said the levies would affect bilateral ties between Tokyo and Washington and South Korea has threatened to take the issue up at the World Trade Organization.
The British government said it would work with the European Union to discuss exemptions while “robustly” supporting domestic industries, reported the BBC.
While Canada is pleased with it exemption from Trump’s crackdown, Ottawa said it would continue to push Washington to drop the levies.
Minister of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo said that the his country’s exemption should not be tied to NAFTA negotiation results.
Trade war in Canada
Trump announced the new levies on Thursday from Capitol Hill, flanked by steel and aluminum industry workers and top officials.
Domestically, Trump’s own pro-free trade Republican Party was largely opposed to the new measures and even lost his top economic advisor Gary Cohn due to a disagreement over the tariffs.
House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan condemned the levies and said that he was concerned for “unintended consequences” that could arise.
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who chairs the finance committee, said the president was “misled” by White House advisors, and Sen. Jeff Flake said he would propose a bill to nullify the tariffs.
Some Democrats were in favour of Trump’s announcement, hailing it as a move that protected U.S. workers.
More details to follow. Image of the European Union graphic from Binary Tree.