The steel plant NLMK Indiana on march 15, 2018 in Portage, Indiana, in the Midwest of the United States (Photo SCOTT OLSON. GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA)
The White House agreed Monday night to extend until June 1, the period of provisional exemption from customs duties on imports of steel and aluminum of Canada, Mexico and the european Union, avoiding an escalation in the trade conflict.
“The administration (Trump) has extended by 30 days the negotiations with Canada, Mexico and the european Union”, she stated in a press release, stressing that it would remain in the course of the negotiations “focused” on preserving the national security of the United States.
A spokesman for the british government welcomed this decision. “We will continue to work closely with our EU partners and the us government in order to achieve an exemption, ultimately, to ensure that our important industries of steel and aluminum should be preserved”, he also responded.
The american president Donald Trump was promulgated on march 8, tariffs of 25 percent on imports of steel and of 10% on those aluminum while exempting immediately Canada and Mexico. At the end of march, it had also exempted temporarily the EU.
This temporary exemption initial should be completed by 1 may.
In the case of Ottawa, and Mexico city, the us president was also linked with a possible exemption ultimately to the renegotiation of the treaty of free trade in north america (Nafta).
This brief respite comes at a time when the Europeans have multiplied the requests for exemption is final in recent weeks and is widely know that they were “ready” to retaliate in the event of the implementation of these taxes.
“We are patient but we are also ready” to act, had warned on Monday the spokesman of the european Commission, Margaritis Schinas.
In exchange for exemptions from these taxes, Americans demand trade concessions.
They have got South Korea to a reduction of its steel exports to the United States and a greater opening of its market to their car manufacturers. The White House announced Monday evening the finalization of the agreement in principle announced at the end of march with Seoul.
“One of the problems that appears is that of fair and equitable treatment of automobiles and we would like to see some concessions of Europe”, recalled last week the chief economic adviser to Donald Trump, Larry Kudlow.
– Multilateralism –
The question is, how the Europeans will welcome Monday’s decision to the extent that they had asked as a condition of an exemption the final to begin real discussions with Washington.
They believe that it is China, by far the world’s largest steel producer and often accused of subsidizing heavily its industry, which is at the origin of the overcapacity in the sector.
“We remain concerned about the impact of tariffs on world trade, and we will continue to work with the EU to a multilateral solution to the problem of overcapacity,” said the spokesman of the british government.
Beijing, which suffers from since the end of march the u.s. taxes, has filed a complaint against the United States before the world trade Organization (WTO).
The French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel had succeeded in Washington last week to try to convince Donald Trump to preserve the EU.
The two leaders and the First british minister Theresa May also warned on Sunday night Washington against trade sanctions, adding that the EU should stand ready to react, if necessary, with efficiency and promptness”.
– Iconic products –
Pending the decision of the american president, Brussels has continued these past few weeks the steps that will enable it to respond to possible u.s. taxes while respecting the rules of the WTO.
The most immediate is to be taxed so that “targeted and proportionate” dozens of iconic products manufactured in the United States, sometimes in States that have voted for Donald Trump, including tobacco, bourbon, jeans or motorcycles to compensate for the potential losses for the european industry.
A list of products has already been approved in mid-April by the member States but, according to a european sources, it would still take a few weeks before the EU can legally hit the United States one of the first measures of retaliation.
If Washington were to impose on June 1, its new taxes, Brussels could also file a complaint before the WTO, arguing that these taxes, under the guise of preserving national security, will only serve to benefit us companies. This action would then take years before it is completed.
Europe has exported $ 5.3 billion euros of steel and 1.1 billion euros of aluminum in 2017 to the United States.