European Union seeks clarity on whether it will be hit by U.S. tariffs

European Union seeks clarity on whether it will be hit by U.S. tariffs

European Union seeks clarity on whether it will be hit by U.S. tariffs

Japan has decried the "grave impact" the Trump measures could have on the world economy.

The EU's trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Brussels on Saturday but the EU executive said the talks would not solve all the problems.

The talks, initially set to address China's over-supply of steel, have always been in the diary but after Trump's dramatic announcement they are now a de facto crisis meeting.

"Dialogue is always the prime option of the European Union", Malmstroem said, adding that Brussels was "counting on being excluded" from the new duties.

China's metals industry issued the country's most explicit threat yet in the row, urging the government to retaliate by targeting USA coal - a sector that is central to Trump's political base and his election pledge to restore American industries and blue-collar jobs. "Working very quickly on a security agreement so we don't have to impose steel or aluminium tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia!"

The EU is arguing that it has a long-standing security alliance with the U.S. and is co-operating to address the issue of overcapacity in the steel sector.

Germany - singled out for particular criticism by Trump - accused Washington of protectionism, calling the tariffs an "affront to close partners".

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that no one will win a "race to the bottom" and said the tariffs risked "hurting everyone".

Trump imposed the tariffs despite pleas from friends and allies who warned the new measure could ignite a trade war.

United States President Donald Trump signed an order on Thursday to set import tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, to come into effect in 15 days.

The EU is also maintaining a threat of counter-measures that would target United States imports ranging from maize to motorcycles, and may publish its list next week to allow industry and other interested parties to give their input.

Brazil, which after Canada is the biggest steel supplier to the United States market, said it wanted to join the exemption list, and Argentina made a similar case.

The EU exports around five billion euros' ($4 billion) worth of steel and a billion euros' worth of aluminium to the U.S. each year, and the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, estimates Trump's tariffs could cost some 2.8 billion euros.

When proposed tariffs were initially announced, stock markets went into a tail spin on concerns they would ignite a global trade war.

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