(Completed on 15th/03/2018 by new information from The White House)
Cecilia Malmström (Member of the EC in charge of Trade and member of the EU Parliament from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe -Sweden-) informed this morning to the European Parliament on the actions being taken by the EU to deffend EU’s interests against Trump’s decission to rise duties on imports of steel and aluminium into the USA.
The rule, signed by Trump under the section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act last week, establishes taxes at 25% on steel imports and at 10% in the case of aluminum imports into the USA, except those coming from Canada and Mexico. The decission is to enter into force by the night between the 22nd and 23rd of March. The EU does’t want a trade war, but is ready to fight for their rights, she assured.
In the same direction, Jyrki Katainen (Vice President of the EC in charge of Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness) said at the Plenary Session of the EP: “This incident is a good remind for all of us. When we want honestly to build globalisation it must be based on rules on a ruled space, instead of on the rule of the strongest.Global Trade agreements are good examples of building ruled space, ruled order. Actually the reality is as siple as this. We have to choose between the two options, either we want to have trade agreements which bring values to trade, which strenthen the ruled space world, or then, we are in the situation that we are at the moment, taking decissions that can harm all of us.
We’ll try to find a solution as soon as possible and we want to harsh security and cooperation with the United States”.
EUROFER and trade unions ask EU to take actions against the metal taxes
European Steel Association (EUROFER)and trade unios of this sector said yesterday in an extraordinary joint press conference that Europe and its industry must react publicly, as US tariffs will be immeasurably damaging, not only to the EU steel industry, but also to sectors connected to it. There is also the potential for irreversible damage to the world trading system underscored EUROFER.
Speakers invited to speak at the joint press conference include Geert Van Poelvoorde, President of EUROFER; Ministers from EU member states, such as Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy and Finance, France; Luis Colunga, Deputy Secretary General, IndustriAll European Trade Union. Executives of the European aluminium industry, as well as other CEOs from the European steel industry also attended to the press conference.
Steps already taken or to be taken by the EU
Following Mälmström words. The EU Commission is already taking or maturing meassures in three fields:
1.- Holding talks and negotiating with Trump’s Administration:
Malmtröm informed that the President of the USA signed off last week the restrictions on trade of steel products under the US regulation enabling to take this measures in case there is any menace to the security of the United States.She also pointed that in EU’s view the steel and aluminum imports from the EU can no way be considered as a threat to US national security as the EU is a fellow member of the UN and NATO, so those imports should be excluded as a whole from the 25% and 10% import taxes signed off last week by Presdident Trump.
Malmtröm assured this point has been made crystal clear to the US Administration ambassador before the EU.
She also pointed that after the latest meeting with US representatives it was still not clear the extension and limits of the trade restriction approved by Trump.
As the EU is fellow member of the UN, WTO and NATO she said that EU Commission’s position is that those restrictions should not be applied on Steel products coming from the EU country members as they can no way be considered as a menace to US national security.
2.- Taking actions before the WTO (World Trade organisation):
The Member of the EC in charge of Trade informed as well on the actions to be taken by the UE Commission before the World Trade Organisation. As the rule on steel imports approved by President Trump is no way justified under the protection of the national security rule this means it is a not justified restriction on trade and therefore a breach of WTO treaties.
Malmström informed that the EU is also establishing contact with other WTO member nations that would be negatively affected by the rule on restriction of steel imports to the US signed by Trump. The idea is finding partners to jointly push against this restriction on trade before teh WTO.
She recognised though that any procedure before the WTO is slow and will take a lot of time till effective.
3.- Establishing further restrictions and quotas for imports on several US products:
Being any action before the WTO a long run procedure, Malmström informed that meanwhile the EU is considering the approval of some restrictions on trade and quotas to be applied to a range of US products. The objective si compensating the economic dammages that US restrictions on steel imports would cause to the EU economy.
Malmström made clear that the EU is no way interested in triggering a commercial war or rising protectionism as this is something that would harm everyone. She also pointed that the measures the EU is taking to face Trump’s current protectionist action against steel imports can’t be considered as trade restrictions as all of them are aimed to compensate economic harms not meant as an hostile action against US economy or the gfreedom of trade.
Trump’s Administration view
Donald Trump’s reaction to EU positon on the metal imports tax has been fast and loud.
Today he has published on Twitter the following tweet
The Tweet included above followed these others from 7th to 12th March
On 8th March US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross justified Trump’s taxes on metal imports saying: “The President acted because steel and aluminum imports have helped erode the domestic industry to the point that it threatens national security. Unfair trading practices from countries like China have distorted the global steel and aluminum markets. It is time to halt the damage.”…”Further escalating this issue is counterproductive. Rather, countries should take responsibility for their unfair practices and work together to address the underlying problems facing these industries. The U.S. is ready and willing to engage in such efforts.”
Asian countries react against US taxes on metal imports
Asian nations reacted against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Major Asian powers warned that the meassure would damage bilateral relations and would lead to retaliation actions.
Japan said Trump’s move would have a “big impact” on both nation’s close bilateral ties. China said it was “resolutely opposed” to the decision and South Korea advanced that it may file a complaint to the World Trade Organization.
The Indian government pointed on March 9th that the decision by the United States to raise import duty on steel and aluminum was discriminatory.
“Of course, there would be some impact as India is an exporter,” commerce secretary Rita Teaotia said, following the information published by the Economic Times. “Let’s wait and see the manner in which it is notified and then we will decide what is to be done. No country violates its WTO commitments. What the US is using is a security excuse. We have to see in what form they are able to justify and rationalize it,” she added.
Image over the headline.- Donald Trump signs import taxes on steel and aluminum under section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act. Toi watch the original photo clic here
Related Eastwind links:
EU reacts against Trump’s taxes on steel and aluminum imports (video)
Jyrki Katainen on Trump’s metal taxes at the plenary session of the EU Parliament on 14th March 2018
Related external links:
Presidential Proclamation on Adjusting Imports of Steel into the United States
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: “Why We Imposed the Metal Tariffs”
EUROFER-trade unions extraordinary joint press conference on US Section 232 Steel Tariffs