European Union still in the dark over Trump's tariffs after meeting U.S. representative


European Union trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom said she's still in the dark about whether the bloc will be let off the hook from planned US tariffs after "frank" but ultimately fruitless talks with her American counterpart in Brussels on Saturday.

The trilateral talks between Malmstrom and Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was followed by a bilateral meeting between Malmstrom and Lighthizer.

"EU, Japan, U.S. agreed on further steps in our ongoing cooperation to tackle trade-distorting practices in sectors such as steel".

The EU is seeking clarity from Washington about whether the 28-nation bloc will be exempt from the US tariffs, like Canada and Mexico are.

A U.S. Commerce Department report released in February said the quantities and circumstances of steel and aluminum imports "threaten to impair the national security", citing excessive imports and global production overcapacity driven partly by Chinese government subsidies.

Trump's decision to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum has riled markets and prompted backlash from USA trading partners, including the European Union. As a close security and trade partner of the United States, the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures.

"Working very quickly on a security agreement so we don't have to impose steel or aluminum tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia!" However, US President Donald Trump, who justified the measures by saying they would protect US national security interests, said "real friends" of the US might be exempt. If they drop their horrific barriers & tariffs on USA products going in, we will likewise drop ours.

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This shed light Trump's attacks against Germany - the biggest economy in the European Union - that have accused Berlin of contributing much less than the U.S. towards the funding of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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

The European Union and Japan, the United States' top economic and military ally in Asia, also reiterated that their exports were not a threat to USA national security, rejecting Trump's justification for imposing the tariffs. Moreover, "it is a major step toward undermining the worldwide rule of law in trade, which the US took the lead in creating ever since WWII".

Some 15 percent of steel on the United States market comes from the European Union, and the tariffs would be a heavy blow for the 28-member bloc.

He said: "This is not a trade negotiation".

He said: "We call for calm-headed behaviour".

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