Saturday, 21 April, 2018

China leads charge against USA tariffs at WTO meeting

European Commission spokesman Margiritis Schinas answers questions on the US tariff threat in Brussels European Commission spokesman Margiritis Schinas answers questions on the US tariff threat in Brussels
Melissa Porter | 07 March, 2018, 20:07

"However, it is our goal to avoid a trade war".

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sought to clarify the administration's stance in testimony before a congressional committee.

"We should have a clear objective in mind to keep world trade alive and if necessary to protect Europeans against trade turbulence, including by proportionate responses in accordance with the WTO", he said. "We cannot see how the European Union, friends and allies in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, can be a threat to worldwide security in the U.S".

The United States proposed tariffs on the imports of steel and aluminum from other countries is likely to open a Pandoras box for the global economy.

Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries said the European Union will "be ready to react appropriately".

"We have serious doubts about whether this measure is WTO compatible".

He also said Trump's view that trade wars were good and easy to win was wrong.

In a sign of growing worldwide alarm at the possible consequences of Trump's protectionist measures, Roberto Azevedo, the WTO's director general, said "in the light of recent announcements on trade policy measures, it is clear we now see a much higher and real risk of triggering an escalation of trade barriers around the world".

"It creates a risk of tit-for-tat violations", Mr Lester said.

"Once we start down this path, it will be very hard to reverse direction".

Speaking a day after Trump shot down Mexican and Canadian proposals that the neighboring nations be granted an exemption from the steep U.S. tariffs, Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Mexico was prepared to fight back.

On Monday, Trump moved to hold the trade talks hostage to the tariffs, tweeting: "Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed".

European Union officials insisted that their planned response was carefully considered and would only reflect a portion of the potential economic damage that could be wreaked on European Union exports by Mr Trump's tariffs.

Trump's announcement of tariffs on aluminum and steel imports have sparked negative reactions from a number of major US allies.

The European Commission is set to review the countermeasures on Wednesday.