EU seeking more clarity over Trump's tariffs move

Catherine Neilan
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The EU commissioner for trade has said she is still not "crystal clear" where the bloc stands after Donald Trump's latest statement on tough new steel and aluminium tariffs.

The US President last night signed an executive order pushing ahead with the 25 per cent levy on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium products, but said he would exclude Canada and Mexico until Nafta negotiations have finished.

Trump praised his country's close relationship and trade surplus with Australia, saying "we'll be doing something with them".

There would be a reduction in tariffs for countries that "treat us fairly", he said but said "many of the countries that treat us the worst on trade and on military are our allies". He had earlier in the day singled out Germany for criticism.

EU commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who earlier this week warned of a multi-billion-euro list of reprisal tariffs, tweeted last night: "The EU is a close ally of the US and we continue to be of the view that the EU should be excluded from these measures.

"I will seek more clarity on this issue in the days to come. Looking forward to meeting USTR Lighthizer in Brussels on Sat to discuss."

The UK would be affected by any tariffs applied to the EU - at least until after it officially leaves the bloc.

This morning, speaking at an event organised by the German Marshall Fund, she added:“It is not crystal clear on what the president said yesterday, so we will have to seek further clarity.

“We hope that we can get clarity that the EU is excluded from this, 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.”

On Tuesday, 18 WTO members including China and Russia expressed serious concerns with the measures.

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