Trump presses European Union on trade barriers in tit-for-tat

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The steel tariff threat was seen by many to be an attempt by the Trump administration to pressure Canada and Mexico to complete the NAFTA talks-giving in to other US demands or giving up some of their own-rather than risk the punishing steel and aluminum duties.

The media drumbeat of condemnation of the tariffs on steel and aluminum announced by President Trump on Tuesday continued over the weekend as world leaders publicly denounced the policy.

"We're working on NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] right now, and if we're able to make a deal with Canada and Mexico in NAFTA, then there will be no reason to do the tariffs with Canada and Mexico", Mr. Trump said.

In a speech in the United States on Sunday, Mr Trump lashed out at the European Union, saying they erected "horrific" trade barriers based on environmental and other regulations.

He once again threatened India and China with such a tax on March 9, saying, "We're going to be doing a reciprocal tax program at some point so that if China is going to charge us 25 per cent or if India is going to charge us 75 per cent and we charge them nothing".

Michael Dolega, economist at TD Economics estimates that about 5,000 to 10,000 jobs could be added to steel and aluminum production in the USA, but there could also be a loss of 25,000 to 50,000 jobs in metal-intensive sectors like machinery and transport equipment. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he disagrees with the move, and other congressional Republicans are hoping to block the duties with legislative action.

In a comment, the Chinese Commerce Minister said that a trade war with America would only have catastrophic consequences for the world economy.

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

Her words echo those of Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo who said last week Mexico also believed the steel tariffs had nothing to do with the NAFTA talks. For if Trump makes the USA an erratic and chaotic trade partner, Australia will be seen by China, South Korea, India and ASEAN as safe, reliable and on side in the Asia-Pacific.

Trump has singled out Europe in the billowing trade row, threatening to tax German cars if the European Union doesn't lower barriers to U.S. products. "In the end, no country wins when tariffs are selectively applied", he said.

But Canada has been taking a hard line against Trump in disputes regarding Canadian lumber exports and USA dairy exports.

The tariffs might be popular in certain parts of the country where steel producers are major employers, just as Trump's obsession with favoring coal over other energy sources plays well in areas that happen to have voted for him. "We are going to be doing a lot of that".

Katainen said Brussels wanted "clarity" on how the tariffs will be implemented and was ready to enforce retaliatory measures to protect European interests if needed.

"Sometimes that steel is dumped for ridiculously low prices and that smashes our local businesses, our local industry and our local workers", Mr Chalmers told Sky News. "It has a negative impact on the NAFTA talks". The investigation was set up to determine whether lower aluminium and steel prices from China was a risk to national security via the closure of US domestic steel and aluminium smelters.

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