Netizen 24 IRL: US to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from EU from Friday

Posted by On 8:00 AM

US to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from EU from Friday

The threat of a trade war between the European Union and the United States has intensified as the Trump administration announced it would impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the EU at midnight tonight.

The European Union had secured a temporary exemption from US tariffs of 25 per cent on steel imports and a 10 per cent levy on aluminium when the Trump administration first announced the measures in March.

But ahead of a June 1st deadline, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said on Thursday that talks with the EU had not made sufficient progress to merit an exemption.

The lev ies will also be placed on Canadian and Mexican imports of steel and aluminium, complicating ongoing talks on NAFTA, the north-American free trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada.

Speaking from Paris where he is attending the OECD meeting, Mr Ross said that the President had “decided in the case of Canada, Mexico and the European Union not to extend the exemptions and therefore they will be placed under the 25 per cent tariff on steel and the 10 per cent tariff on aluminum effective at midnight tonight.”

EU retaliation

The European Union’s top trade official, Cecilia Malmstrom, indicated last week that she was not con fident of a deal with the US despite intensive negotiations.

The Europeans had offered to open up four areas of trade for discussion- including granting the US greater market access to industrial products.

But the offer was insufficient for the US negotiators.

The European Union has warned that it would respond to any tariffs with retaliatory measures. In an initial reaction to the news, a British government spokesman said that Britain and other EU countries are close allies of the United States and should be permanently fully exempted from the tariffs.

Manfred Weber, a top German M EP in the European Parliament and close ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel responded on twitter: “We will have no choice but to defend European industry, jobs and interests. We will not accept this highly regrettable decision without reacting.”

America first

Washington’s decision to press ahead with the sanctions is the latest sign that President Trump is following-through with his election promise to put ‘America first’ and pursue a protectionist approach to international trade. China is also in the President’s sights. Mr Ross is due to travel to Beijing this weekend to continue difficult trade talks with China, as the US continues to try and reduce its trade deficit with Ch ina.

US stock markets fell on the news, though steel and aluminium stocks strengthened. The dollar strengthened against the euro.

Aughinish Alumina

Any new tariffs on aluminium imports into the US will impact on the Aughinish Alumina plant in Limerick. Aughinish provides alumina to some of the biggest users of aluminium in Europe who then export their products to the US. Much of its output is used for aluminium in the car and aeronautical industries.

The firm is already caught up in US sanctions introduced last month targeting Russian individuals and businesses including Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, the majority shareholder in EN+ Group which in turn owns 48 per cent of Aughinish’s owner Rusal.

A delegation of Government officials visited the US earlier this month to tell senior figures in the Trump administration that Washington’s recent sanctions on Russian individuals and businesses had inadvertently placed the future of the plant “in jeopardy”. The US has extended the wind-down period or individuals doing business with Rusal and also indicated that it would provide sanctions relief to the company if Mr Deripaska relinquishes control.

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