France, Germany, Britain say EU ‘must be ready to react’ to US trade tariffs

US President Donald J. Trump (R) and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel (L) walk down the Cross Hall after concluding a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 27 April 2018. [EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS]

The European Union’s three largest economies agree on the need to be “ready to react” to trade tariffs imposed by the United States, France’s presidency said Sunday (29 April).

“The EU must be ready to react, if necessary, with efficiency and speed,” it said in a statement after telephone talks between French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May on the potential impact of new US tariffs.

Crippling US tariffs on steel and aluminium are set to take effect on Tuesday, and key trading partners including the EU have urged the White House to exempt them from the additional cost.

US President Donald Trump met last week with Macron and Merkel but gave no indication of whether or not he planned to exempt the EU, which last year exported over $7.7-billion of steel and aluminium to the US market.

Eurozone powerhouse Germany last week said it expected Washington to impose the tariffs from May 1, although a key economic advisor to Trump hinted Thursday that concessions might be made to the EU.

Commission opens the door to solve US tariff dispute

The European Commission is ready to discuss “any issue” the US Administration wants to raise as it seeks to obtain a permanent exemption from the tariffs announced by President Donald Trump.

“It’s very important that so many of our friends make some concessions with respect to trading practices, tariffs and taxes,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told CNBC.

He pointed to concerns about “equal treatment of automobiles” in the EU as an example.

Macron, Merkel and May discussed the tariffs and said they “hope the United States doesn’t take measures contrary to transatlantic interests,” the Elysée statement said.

Trump imposed the tariffs last month on national security grounds, saying cheap imports were undermining US producers crucial to military preparedness, but gave a temporary reprieve to the countries that are the main suppliers to the US market.

EU leaders postpone decision on trade amid wariness over US tariff exemption

EU leaders postponed a decision on trade as the first day of a European Council summit wrapped up around 1AM on Friday morning (23 March), in a display of their wariness about the Trump administration’s announcement hours earlier that it will exempt Europe from tariffs on steel and aluminium.

The measures were targeted primarily at overproduction by China, which has been the key focus of Trump’s combative trade policies.

The EU has threatened to impose their own punitive tariffs on key US goods if they are not shielded from the steel and aluminium duties.

EU could hit peanut butter, orange juice, whiskey in Trump trade row

The EU warned US President Donald Trump on Wednesday to step back from the brink of a trade war or it would hit flagship US products, such as peanut butter and whiskey.

In a state visit to Washington last week, Macron called for cooperation among allies on trade.

“You don’t make trade war with your allies,” Macron warned addressed the US Congress.

The three EU leaders also discussed the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump has threatened to scrap, the French presidency said.

Macron: We won’t negotiate ‘with a gun to our head’ over US tariffs

The EU’s temporary exclusion from punitive US tariffs on steel and aluminium “did not appear satisfactory to us,” French President Emmanuel Macron said after an EU summit on Friday (23 March). “Europe will not waiver,” he said.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe