U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs are “illegal”, France and Germany have claimed, as the protectionist European Union (EU) moves to introduce harsh retaliation measures.
EU leaders also said they will be taking the U.S. to the World Trade Organization (WTO) ‘trade court’ in an attempt to have Mr. Trump’s policy declared illegal under international rules.
The Trump administration argues the tariffs are limited and designed to save America’s ailing metals industry, which is needed for defence and national security reasons. He had initially delayed introducing them but announced they would be enacted Thursday night.
The EU’s planned retaliatory measures, meanwhile, are designed to do maximum harm to U.S. prestige and economic interests, with them threatening to hit $3.5 billion of goods, including iconic products such as blue jeans, motorcycles, and bourbon whiskey, as well as agriculture.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron, a globalist who has courted Mr. Trumps’s friendship, blasted: “Unilateral responses and threats over trade war will solve nothing of the serious imbalances in world trade. Nothing.”
President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said in a statement: “The EU believes these unilateral U.S. tariffs are unjustified and at odds with World Trade Organisation rules. This is protectionism, pure and simple.”
He added: “The U.S. now leaves us with no choice but to proceed with a WTO dispute settlement case and with the imposition of additional duties on a number of imports from the U.S. We will defend the Union’s interests, in full compliance with international trade law.”
WATCH: Farage Says EU ‘Bullies’ Are ‘Hypocrites’ for Attacking Trump’s Steel Tariffs https://t.co/2WA7EkHoEb
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 13, 2018
The German government has also called the tariffs “unlawful” and spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel referred in a statement to “the danger of spirals of escalations” that could hurt both sides.
The United Kingdom, meanwhile, which is still tied to the EU for years to come during a Brexit ‘transition period’, said it was disappointed and would work with the U.S. and EU to achieve a permanent exemption, but backed away from aggressive language and threats of retaliation.
In a statement, the British government said it has “made clear to the U.S. government at the highest levels the importance of UK steel and aluminium to its businesses and defence projects”.
Last year, the U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross attacked the EU’s “extreme protectionism” as President Trump planned the metal tariffs.
The EU, for example, puts 10 per cent on car imports, compared to 2.5 per cent charged by the U.S.
Trump’s Commerce Secretary Blasts EU’s ‘Extreme Protectionism’, Backs Big Post-Brexit Deal with Britain https://t.co/PTOCJxzzPh
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 7, 2017