The Financial Times reports that European Union has vowed to respond to Donald Trump’s new tariffs with measures of its own instead of returning to the negotiating table, as transatlantic trade tensions escalated on Friday.
Cecilia Malmstrom, European trade commissioner, said the EU “had closed the door on talks to partially liberalise parts of EU-US trade after the tariff exemption ran out. “We are not going to enter into any negotiations”, Ms Malmstrom told a press conference. “We offered dialogue and future negotiations under the condition they took away this threat. They didn’t and here we are”, she said. She added: “When they say American first, we say Europe united”.
Earlier Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative on foreign policy, told journalists “The European Union will today proceed with the WTO dispute settlement case adding those additional duties on a number of imports from the United States”. “The European Union measures will be reasonable, proportionate and in full compliance with WTO rules and obligations”, she added.
The UK, which has hopes of agreeing a trade liberalisation deal with the US after Brexit, expressed alarm at Ross’s announcement. Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, said Britain would not rule out countermeasures or taking Washington to the WTO, which arbitrates on global trade disputes. Speaking to Sky News he attacked the tariffs as “patently absurd” and urged the US to think again. “It would be a great pity if we ended up in a tit-for-tat trade dispute with our closest allies.”
French president, Emmanuel Macron, called the US tariffs illegal and a mistake, while the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, issued an immediate like-for-like response – announcing tariffs of up to 25% on US imports worth up to 16.6bn Canadian dollars (£9.6bn), which was the total value of Canadian steel exports to the US last year. The tariffs will cover steel and aluminium as well as orange juice, whiskey and other food products.
In the meantime US businesses have warned there is a risk of severe damage from the tariffs on steel and aluminium announced by the Trump administration and the retaliatory measures launched by other countries. Business groups said the decision to impose tariffs on imports from US allies including Canada and the EU could disrupt the global trading system, curtail investment and lead to job cuts. In a statement that typified the alarmed reaction, the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users said: “Restricting the raw material supply in the US and imposing tariffs on imports from our closest trading partners places American manufacturers directly in harm’s way.”