US-Europe trade war likely averted, for now

An employee in protective clothing works at the furnace at the steel producer, the Salzgitter AG, in Salzgitter, Thursday, March 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
An employee in protective clothing works at the furnace at the steel producer, the Salzgitter AG, in Salzgitter, Germany, Thursday, March 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Liquid raw iron is reflected in a protective visor of an employee working at the furnace at the steel producer, Salzgitter AG, in Salzgitter, Thursday, March 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
An employee in protective clothing takes a sample from the furnace at the steel producer, Salzgitter AG, in Salzgitter, Germany, Thursday, March 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
An employee in protective clothing works at the furnace on the grounds at the steel producer, the Salzgitter AG, in Salzgitter, Germany, Thursday, March 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
An employee stands in front of coils at the steel producer, Salzgitter AG, in Salzgitter, Thursday, March 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
An employee in protective clothing works at the furnace at the steel producer, Salzgitter AG, in Salzgitter, Germany, Thursday, March 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Coils placed in a storage on the grounds of the steel producer, Salzgitter AG, in Salzgitter, Germany, Thursday, March 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BRUSSELS — The European Union and the U.S. seem to have averted a trade war for now, after the administration of President Donald Trump said Thursday it was ready to exempt the 28-country bloc from tariffs on steel and aluminum.

EU leaders, who had threatened to retaliate to any new U.S. tariffs with restrictions on American goods, gave a cautious welcome to news of the exemption.

"A trade war would have damaged both sides," Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted from a summit of leaders in Brussels.

In Washington, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Thursday that Trump had decided to "pause" the tariffs for countries that are engaged in trade negotiations with the United States. He said the EU would be exempt, along with Canada, Mexico, Australia, Argentina and Brazil.

The EU is the world's biggest trading bloc and it had drawn up a list of dozens of U.S goods — from peanut butter to motorcycles, worth 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) in trade annually — upon which it could impose retaliatory tariffs.

Trump had planned to impose tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. The sanctions are meant to hit China for flooding the world with cheap steel and aluminum but in practice would have hurt many allies, such as the EU.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani told reporters that "if official confirmation arrives, then that will certainly be a piece of news that goes in the right direction. The U.S. and Europe are two sides of the same coin and I don't think we should get involved in a trade war."

Earlier, Germany's economy minister said he had found officials in Washington "open to our arguments" when he visited to try and avert the tariffs.

Germany's Peter Altmaier and EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom both visited Washington this week to seek the exemption.

Altmaier told Germany's parliament Thursday "it is a question of fundamental significance: whether we all stand for open and fair world markets in the future."

At the Brussels summit, EU leaders were expected to trumpet their commitment to the world trade order and to press on with free trade deals with the Mercosur countries of South America and Mexico.

Ahead of the summit — in an invitation letter to the leaders — EU Council President Donald Tusk exhorted them to remain an example to the global trading system rather than revert to protectionism.

"As the world's biggest trading power, the EU's response will be responsible and reasonable," he wrote.

The EU rejects Trump's assertion that the tariffs are needed for national security and sees them as protectionist measures. Most EU countries are U.S. allies in the world's biggest security organization, NATO.

___

Raf Casert in Brussels contributed to this report.

People also read these

AP Interview: Pashinian warns Armenia not to...

May 2, 2018

The opposition leader spearheading weeks of protest in Armenia warned the government Wednesday not...

In hometown of Armenia's new leader, people hope...

May 13, 2018

In the hometown of the newly-named Armenian prime minister, people see him as a man who was able to...

OPEC, allies says production cuts ahead of...

Jan 22, 2017

OPEC and key non-OPEC oil producers seeking to push up the price of crude by cutting production say...

Austria approves US extradition for Ukrainian...

Feb 21, 2017

An Austrian court has approved a U.S. extradition request for a Ukrainian oligarch suspected of...

Prince Charles, wife Camilla, arrive in Austria

Apr 5, 2017

Prince Charles of Britain and his wife, Camilla, have arrived for a two-day visit to Austria that...

Sign up now!

About Us

24-7 Reporters publishes up-to-the-minute news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our certified reporters are among the most experienced, well-trained and talented across the globe, covering issues resonating progressives in every corner of the world.

Contact us: sales[at]24-7reporters.com