EU says metal tariffs ‘prolong uncertainty’ after US holds off

EU says metal tariffs ‘prolong uncertainty’ after US holds off

BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
EU says metal tariffs ‘prolong uncertainty’ after US holds off

The European Union accused the United States on May 1 of prolonging  “market uncertainty” with its decision to hold off on imposing controversial tariffs on metal imports from key global trading partners.

The 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent duties on aluminum - a key tenet of U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America first” approach to worldwide trade - were due to go into effect on May 1.

But after renewed fears of a trade war spooked Wall Street, Trump said he was holding off the levies, offering a 30-day reprieve to Canada, Mexico and the EU.The European Commission and economic powerhouse Germany both called for EU nations to be permanently excluded from the punishing tariffs.

“The U.S. decision prolongs market uncertainty, which is already affecting business decisions,” the commission, the EU’s executive arm, said in a statement.

A government spokeswoman in Berlin said Germany had “taken note” of Trump’s decision to delay the duties, but said it was “still waiting for a permanent exemption” to the tariffs.

Europe had lined up its own punitive tariffs on American imports, including iconic items like Harley-Davidson motorbikes, blue jeans and bourbon whiskey -- but for now, instead, negotiations will continue.

Britain, the EU’s second-largest economy, welcomed Trump’s “positive” decision but warned against further protectionist measures from the White House.

“We remain concerned about the impact of these tariffs on global trade and will continue to work with the EU on a multilateral solution to the global problem of overcapacity, as well as to manage the impact on domestic markets,” a government statement said.

Trump said on April 30 that the “necessary and appropriate means to address the threat to the national security” posed by the metal imports is to “continue these discussions and to extend the temporary exemption of these countries.”

The US also announced it had finalized a trade deal with South Korea, which includes several concessions made by Seoul, including extended tariffs on pick-up trucks and a quota on its steel exports.

Washington has “agreements in principle” with Argentina, Australia and Brazil, “the details of which will be finalised shortly,” a White House statement said.

“In all of these negotiations, the administration is focused on quotas that will restrain imports, prevent transshipment, and protect the national security.”

The Trump administration has told trading partners they must make concessions, but the EU has insisted it will not negotiate without first obtaining a permanent exemption.

Extensions for Canada and Mexico had been expected, as Mexico City, Ottawa and Washington work on revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Canada exported over $12 billion of steel and aluminum to the United States in 2017, with another $3 billion from Mexico.

But an extension for the EU was less of a foregone conclusion.

The EU’s three largest economies - Britain, France and Germany - held crisis talks on April 29 and the French presidency said afterwards they had agreed “the EU must be ready to act” if Washington presses ahead with the tariffs.

In a strident statement reacting to the 30-day extension, the EU’s executive arm said it was willing to continue dialogue but pointedly warned:

“We will not negotiate under threat.”    

“Any future transatlantic work program has to be balanced and mutually beneficial,” it said.Last year the EU exported over $7.7 billion of steel and aluminum to the U.S. market

steel tariffs, Angela Merkel, Merkel,