EU makes final efforts to avoid trade war with the US over tariffs

With the new US tariffs on European steel and aluminium exports due to come into force tomorrow, EU officials are making their final efforts to avoid a trade war. The US administration have imposed the new tariffs on the grounds on “national security”, and will include 25% on steel exports and 10% on aluminium.

These tariffs officially came into effect in March. However, the EU, along with Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea were given a temporary reprieve. This is due to expire on the 1st May. China has been the main focus of the tariffs; the US has a $502tn trade deficit with the state.

As a last attempt to gain exemption from the tariffs and avoid a trade war between the EU and the US, several representatives from the EU are taking action. For example, Cecilia the European commissioner for trade, is speaking today with US secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross.

With mounting fears that a deal won’t be reached, Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel have agreed that the EU would make counter tariffs in response to the tariffs being imposed on traders in Europe. Merkel said Europe was “resolved to defend its interests within the multilateral trade framework”.

A spokesperson for the British government added that leaders in the EU are discussing “the vital importance of our steel and aluminium industries and their concern about the impact of US tariffs” and they have “pledged to continue to work closely with the rest of the EU and the US administration with the aim of a permanent exemption from US tariffs”.

Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said an EU-US trade war would be “extremely negative” for both sides. He said: “I admit, I am concerned that there could be some new trade barriers. If it comes to that, I hope that we as the EU can come to agreement very quickly on a common and clear position. I hope that this won’t unleash any negative spiral that leads to a trade war and that, rather, the US will reconsider its ideas about trade barriers.”

President Trump has expressed that he would like to discuss future trade relations with individual member states rather than the EU as a whole. However, the EU has declined, and insists that it is only willing to discuss future trade terms with the US once a permanent and unconditional offer has been made that gives European companies exemption to the new steel and aluminium tariffs.

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