World on brink of trade war as US slaps tar­iffs on EU, Canada and Mex­ico

Global Times - Weekend - - WORLD -

The world’s largest economies stood on the brink of all-out trade war as the EU, Canada and Mex­ico drew up re­tal­ia­tory mea­sures to Wash­ing­ton’s sting­ing steel and alu­minum tar­iffs that came into ef­fect on Fri­day.

Wash­ing­ton an­gered its ma­jor al­lies by slap­ping du­ties of 25 per­cent and 10 per­cent on im­ports of alu­minum and steel.

The mea­sures had ac­tu­ally been de­cided back in March, but at the time US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump gave Canada and the EU – the big­gest sources of for­eign alu­minum and steel re­spec­tively for the US – a grace pe­riod un­til May 31.

On Thurs­day, how­ever, Trump an­nounced that those ex­emp­tions were not be­ing ex­tended, and his de­ci­sion im­me­di­ately drew fu­ri­ous re­sponses from Cana­dian Pres­i­dent Justin Trudeau, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron.

“These tar­iffs are an af­front to the long stand­ing se­cu­rity part­ner­ship be­tween Canada and the US,” said Trudeau, as Ot­tawa hit back with re­tal- ia­tory du­ties on US im­ports worth up to C$16.6 bil­lion ($12.8 bil­lion).

EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the 28-na­tion bloc “will an­nounce in the next com­ing hours counter-bal­anc­ing mea­sures” in re­sponse to the US ac­tion.

Brus­sels has pre­vi­ously threat­ened to slap tar­iffs on US prod­ucts in­clud­ing bour­bon, mo­tor­cy­cles and blue jeans.

French Pres­i­dent Macron told Trump in a tele­phone call that the tar­iffs were “il­le­gal” and said Europe would re­spond in a “firm and pro­por­tion­ate man­ner.”

And speak­ing to re­porters, Macron de­scribed the US move as “a mis­take in many ways be­cause it re­sponds to ex­ist­ing in­ter­na­tional im­bal­ances in the worst way – by break­ing up and cre­at­ing eco­nomic na­tion­al­ism.

In Ber­lin, Chan­cel­lor Merkel said the mea­sure “risks touch­ing off spi­rals of es­ca­la­tion that in the end hurt ev­ery­one.”

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