Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Sport | By Stuart Potter

US, EU talks on controversial tariff policy in standoff

US, EU talks on controversial tariff policy in standoff

The meeting, originally scheduled to address China's oversupply of steel, was also attended by Japan's trade minister, Hiroshige Seko.

The U.S. says China is the main culprit in flooding the market with cheap steel and aluminum, dragging down prices and putting American producers out of business.

The EU's trade commissioner says there is "no immediate clarity" from the U.S. on how the bloc can gain exemption from new tariffs on imported steel and aluminium imposed by President Trump.

United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard had voiced opposition to tariffs on Canada, whose steel and aluminum industries are fully integrated with those of the United States and where workers are represented by the Pittsburgh-based union.

She said: "As a close security and trade partner of the U.S., the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures".

The rollout has left countries confused about their chances at getting onto the no-tariff list, and in at least one case, that of Australia, the deed seemed to have been accomplished with a phone call from the country's prime minister to Trump.

A Mexican government official also denied that any concessions were offered to Washington.

After defying conventional wisdom, Republican Party dogma and many of his own advisers by announcing new steel and aluminum tariffs, President Donald Trump appears to be backpedaling on the brazen proposal.

The EU's top trade official said the U.S. failed to provide full clarity on how Europe and Japan could be spared set to continue next week.

The EU threatened an "arsenal" of retaliatory measures when the tariffs were first proposed, including imposing import tariffs on products made in red districts.

Lighthizer made no public comments following the Saturday talks.

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But the process stalled, with Myanmar and Bangladesh blaming the other for a lack of preparedness for the huge undertaking. But rights groups and the United Nations have warned that conditions for their return are not close to being in place.

"The president is going to quickly find out that you can't start a trade war with your allies and expect them to work with you on other issues", Jamie Fly, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, told the Washington Post.

Citing Chinese researchers, Zhong said the US has been overstating its trade deficit with China by about 20 percent every year.

"If they drop their horrific barriers & tariffs on USA products going in, we will likewise drop ours".

There remains a risk of backlash from allies who seek exemptions and don't get them. "The macro-economic impact would be serious, not only if the United States took action, but especially if other countries were to retaliate, notably those who would be most affected, such as Canada, Europe, and Germany in particular", Lagarde said on French radio RTL.

"The European Union has not treated us well, and it's been a very, very unfair trade situation".

Brussels has gone the furthest in fighting back against Washington's shock measures, loudly announcing a list of USA products to hit with countermeasures if its exports are affected by the tariffs. Trump wrote on Twitter.

While carrying a message to Washington to push forward a diplomatic breakthrough over North Korea, South Korea's national security office chief Chung Eui-yong asked USA officials to support Seoul's request for a waiver, a presidential spokesman said. The White House said Trump will consider exempting other US allies on a case-by-case basis.

Trump tweeted yesterday that he spoke with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about trade and military cooperation.

"We are prepared and will be prepared if need be to use rebalancing measures", he said. "Now we have a different approach".

Mnuchin told CNBC that he has been speaking with his foreign counterparts and "my expectation is there may be some other countries that [Trump] considers in the next two weeks" for exemptions.

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