EU - 'We should be excluded from tariffs as US ally'
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said yesterday that the European Union was a close ally of the United States and should be exempt from impending US metals tariffs.
US President Donald Trump pressed ahead yesterday with the imposition of 25pc tariffs on steel imports and 10pc for aluminium yesterday.
However, he exempted, at least temporarily, Mexico and Canada, and suggested the "great country" of Australia would also be spared, along with "possibly other countries as well" who were "real friends".
Ms Malmstrom said in a tweet: "The EU is a close ally of the US and we continue to be of the view that the EU should be excluded from these measures."
Mr Trump did not name the countries he regarded as friends, or say what he had in mind for them. However, he has argued the tariffs would counter cheap imports, especially from China, which he says are undermining US industries and jobs.
Mr Trump indicated those nations spending more on defence would be better positioned, and White House officials indicated "carve outs" would be decided on a "country-by-country" basis.
However, the announcement is expected to be the beginning of a wider trade war, with additional tariffs likely to follow.
Mr Trump said: "We have to protect and build our steel and aluminium industries while at the same time showing great flexibility and co-operation toward those that are real friends and treat us fairly on both trade and the military."
Mr Trump indicated there would be winners and losers from his protectionist policy, singling out Germany for criticism. "We have some friends and some enemies where we have been tremendously taken advantage of over the years on trade and on military," he said.
"If you look at Nato, where Germany pays 1pc and we are paying 4.2pc of a much bigger GDP, that's not fair. Nato countries, some owe billions and billions of dollars. Defence is also a part of trade. To a certain extent they go hand in hand."
The EU would vehemently object to any carve out for one nation, perhaps even taking legal action to stop it. An exemption for the UK could also poison Brexit negotiations.