U.S. allies line up for exemptions from Trump's tariffs

Foreign Treasury Holdings

Germany has called for multilateral talks to address overcapacity in the steel sector and said it supports the European Union plans to respond if Mr Trump presses ahead with the tariffs.

The EU hopes to convince the United States that introducing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports is "not the right move", but is ready to act should any such measures be implemented. The White House said the move will help the United States protect industries and jobs from unfair competition and that across-the-board tariffs are needed because countries like China use third countries for shipping steel to the United States, disguising its origin.

A WTO spokesman has said they can not comment on the tariff announcement, adding that they are still unclear on the legal basis for the measures.

Even though China accounts for only a small fraction of USA steel imports, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the US president is being unwise in launching a trade war.

European Union officials said that while they shared USA concerns about overcapacity in the steel sector, tariffs were not the answer, and stressed Europe's historic ties to the United States.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said after meetings in Brussels that she got "no immediate clarity on the exact USA procedure for exemption", and that new talks are planned next week. A senior EU official told EU Reporter that this was a clear case of protectionism, saying that the EU and USA are aligned on national security, on over-capacity and have taken firm action on anti-dumping.

EU President Donald Tusk yesterday warned Trump that "trade wars are bad and easy to lose", directly rebuffing the USA leader's claim last week they were "good and easy to win".

The WTO said Wednesday that, so far, 18 members - including China, Australia, Brazil, the EU, India, Japan, Norway and Russian Federation - have expressed concerns about Trump's proposed tariffs.

European steel and aluminium associations warn that USA tariffs could cost their sectors thousands of jobs.

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A collapse in steel prices has hit Western countries including the U.S., Italy, and Belgium, which has led to job losses in the industry, CNBC reported.

In Sydney, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull cited Washington's strong relationship with Australia, adding: "There is no case for imposing tariffs on Australian steel".

The EU exported about 5.5 million tons of steel to the US past year.

The EU itself already has tariffs on many imports.

"We expressed our concern". As a result, China ranks only 11th in steel and fourth in aluminum imports to the United States.

But the US has already thrown up barriers to Chinese imports.

"This is not a trade negotiation", Katainen said.

In talks, the United States should not expect any European Union concessions to win an exemption, European Union officials said.

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