No trade-off for tariff deal with US

US President Donald Trump's new aluminium and steel tariffs will take effect on March 24. Kevin Lamarque  Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to impose a hefty import duty on European cars if the European Union retaliates against his steep tariffs on aluminum and steel.

Tokyo has also urged the United States for a "calm-headed behavior" in the midst of a conflict that might bring about a trade war.

At the meeting in Brussels, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and Japanese counterpart Hiroshige Seko discussed the tariffs as part of a trilateral effort to combat unfair trade practices. The European Union, which is responsible for Britain's trade policy till next year, is likewise seeking exemption.

A week since announcing tariffs of 25 per cent on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium imports, President Trump shows no sign of resiling from his decision. European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen also commented on the potential need for the EU to impose its own tariffs on U.S. products as a counter measure.

"Working very quickly on a security agreement so we don't have to impose steel or aluminium tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia!"

There is a trade deficit with the USA, meaning more American products and services are bought down under than sent the other way. "It's crap", Trump said, earning cheers from the crowd.

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Europe's trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom stated "as a close security and trade partner of the U.S., the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures".

Trump said the move would spur economic growth in the region.

The EU said in a statement that both Brussels and Tokyo had serious concerns about the US tariffs.

"If Trump wants his allies to demonstrate that they are united in tackling problems with China, this is precisely that", the source added. European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said it would be "a meeting, not THE meeting".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that "no one can win in such a race to the bottom", while French President Emmanuel Macron said that Mr Trump risked provoking a mutually destructive "trade war".

The EU exports around five billion euros ($4 billion) worth of steel and a billion euros worth of aluminum to the USA each year, and the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, estimates Trump's tariffs could cost some 2.8 billion euros. We can not lose our steel industry.

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