EU, Japan start push for exemptions from Trump tariffs

by Abel Hampton March 16, 2018, 1:13
EU, Japan start push for exemptions from Trump tariffs

Australia may secure an exemption to USA steel tariffs but there remains some confusion as to the terms. Japan has warned of the dangers of tit-for-tat measures.

Seko did not go into what conditions might allow Japan to evade tariffs and, asked if Lighthizer had brought up the US trade deficit with Japan, Seko said no.

Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said he had expressed concern to Mr Lighthizer and warned of major market disruption.

Commenting as he arrived at a meeting, Netherlands Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra told CNBC that tariffs were "a bad idea".

A China-based business source with knowledge of discussion among senior European officials said there had been a "clear effort" by the USA government over the past six months to introduce a coordinated approach to Chinese industrial policy, but that Trump's metals tariffs had undermined European support.

Trump is opening up one-on-one trade talks with countries on the new tariffs, to see if he can win concessions for the U.S. However, it took on more urgency after Trump's tariff move.

The White House is now eyeing a hundred different Chinese products, a person with knowledge of internal discussions told AFP, stressing that the dollar value had not been settled on.

The EU reacted angrily to Trump's announcement with the European Commission announcing last Wednesday that it would raise import duties on archetypal USA goods including bourbon, peanuts and cranberries if the US went ahead.

"Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will be speaking with representatives of the European Union about eliminating the large Tariffs and Barriers they use against the U.S.A.", Trump tweeted on Monday. "Big Deficit. If not, we Tax Cars etc. FAIR!"

The latest US trade threat, which follows the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminium last week, overshadowed unexpectedly robust Chinese industrial and investment growth data for the first two months of the year. "We are not afraid, we will stand up to the bullies", Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said earlier in the day. But then, if other countries want to take part in the European Union response, "of course, we are kind of open to these discussions". He was apparently referring to the European Union threats of retaliation.

He has started talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and most recently imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

"This is not a trade negotiation", he said.

On average, the EU applies a 3 percent tariff on USA products, while the average tariff applied by the 2.4 percent, the European Commission said, adding that isolating cars is "cherry-picking".

"We have a whole suite of tariffs and countervailing duties that are at our disposal to move forward and ensure that we are not accepting in unfairly-produced or sold steel into Canada", Trudeau said while at a steel plant.

The EU has warned that it stands ready to slap "rebalancing" tariffs on about 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) worth of USA steel, agricultural and other products, like peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice.

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