Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Steel stocks down following Trump's decision to slap tariffs on imports

Steel stocks down following Trump's decision to slap tariffs on imports

"The European Union has not treated us well, and it's been a very, very unfair trade situation".

The EU's Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has met with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer amid efforts for the European Union to secure an exemption from steel and aluminium imports imposed by US President Donald Trump.

Canada and Mexico were left out, and Trump held out the possibility that other countries and American corporations could get exemptions, too.

After meetings with US trade envoy Robert Lighthizer in Brussels, EU and Japanese trade officials said negotiations would need to continue.

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Ms Malmstrom said on Friday that she would seek clarity on the U.S. decision and was counting on an European Union exemption. China can handle any challenges and will resolutely protect its interests, but the two countries will continue to talk, he said.

The dispute has fuelled concerns that soybeans, the United States' most valuable export to the world's second largest economy, might be caught up in the trade actions after Beijing launched a probe into imports of USA sorghum, a grain used in animal feed and liquor.

Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said he had expressed Japanese concern to Lighthizer and warned of major market disruption. No wonder South Korea's steel exports to the USA plummeted 38 per cent to $3.25 billion (Bt101.7 billion) past year from $5.2 billion in 2014. And yet they send their cars and everything else back into the USA, he said.

"He only explained the schedule and the procedures", he said.

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Trump said on Twitter that the European Union had objected to planned new import tariffs on steel and aluminum while itself imposing "horrific" trade barriers on U.S. products.

Trump made his comments after crunch talks in Brussels between European Union negotiators and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in an effort to defuse a bitter row that many fear could turn into an all-out trade war. However, it took on more urgency after Trump's tariff move. European Commission vice president Jyrki Katainen said it would be "a meeting, not THE meeting".

"This is not a trade negotiation", he said. Diplomatic and U.S. business sources say the United States has frozen a formal mechanism for talks on commercial disputes with China because it is not satisfied Beijing has met its promises to ease market restrictions.

"The European Union, wonderful countries who treat the US very badly on trade, are complaining about the tariffs on steel and aluminum", Mr. Trump said in a tweet on Saturday.

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It has already started monitoring incoming metal flows to see whether a surge occurs. But since Trump signaled that exemptions were possible, reaction has been measured, and counter threats have been carefully calibrated so far. But she has also vowed to press ahead with countermeasures, in line with World Trade Organisation rules, if the tariffs are imposed. "Right now we are negotiating NAFTA with Canada and Mexico, so we are holding off the tariffs to see if we can make a deal on a new NAFTA treaty", he stated.

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