Does Trump start trade war with EU?
US President Donald Trump's decision to introduce customs tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum in order to "protect national security" has provoked a stormy reaction, not only in the European Union, but throughout the world - even in the US.
Sen. Jeff Flake said that he will introduce legislation to nix Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports just minutes after they were announced.
"I will immediately draft and introduce legislation to nullify these tariffs, and I urge my colleagues to pass it before this exercise in protectionism inflicts any more damage on the economy," Flake said in a statement.
Speaking at a panel discussion in Brussels, the European Union's trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom criticized Trump's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium products.
“It is not crystal clear on what the president said yesterday,” Ms Malmström said at an event organised by the German Marshall Fund. “So we will have to seek further clarity.”
“We hope that we can get clarity that the EU is excluded from this,” she said. “If not we have been clear that we don’t think this is compatible with the WTO, so we will go to the WTO, possibly within some other friends.”
Germany's government urged multilateral talks to address overcapacity in the steel sector and said it supports the European Union's plans to retaliate to Trump's steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
"The European Union has decided to respond clearly to the US measures and as the federal government we support this position," Reuters cited the government spokesman Georg Streiter as saying. "The exact nature of the (EU) steps will be decided after a close analysis of the American measures," he added.
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said that France regrets US President's decision. "There are only losers in a trade war. With our EU partners, we will assess consequences on our industries and agree appropriate response," he tweeted.
The head of China's Ministry of Commerce's Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau Wang Hejun called on the US to revoke its decision to impose tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum exports.
He said the US measures are in essence trade protectionism in the guise of national security. He said most US steel and aluminum imports are for civil use and by no means impair US national security.
According to the official, the US abuse of "national security" provision is a wanton sabotage of the multilateral trading system represented by the World Trade Organization, and is set to hurt the normal international trading order.
"China firmly opposes that," he said in a statement posted on the ministry website. "China urges the US to respect the authority of the multilateral trading system and revoke the decision as soon as possible."
Wang Hejun said China has lodged solemn complaints with the US side through multiple channels and said China will assess its loss caused by the US measures. "(China) will take strong measures to safeguard its legitimate interests," China Daily cited the official as saying.
Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono said called US-approved tariff measures on steel and aluminum imports regrettable. "These measures could make a significant impact on the economic and cooperative relationship between Japan and the U.S., who are allies, as well as the world economy. Japan will appropriately address this issue upon careful scrutinization of the impact on Japanese companies and the relationship with the WTO Agreement," the statement says.