Published: Wed, March 07, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Germany and EU hit back at Donald Trump's trade war threat

Germany and EU hit back at Donald Trump's trade war threat

Trump downplayed those fears in a tweet Friday, saying "trade wars are good, and easy to win".

A tit-for-tat trade war may begin, as they impose unsanctioned measures to even up the score. Knowing the US ultimately has as much or more to lose, Canada is unlikely to be bullied into making serious concessions at the NAFTA table to avoid Trump's tariffs.

The Trade Partnership, a consulting firm, said the tariffs would increase USA employment in the steel and aluminum sector by about 33,000 jobs but would cost 179,000 jobs in the rest of the economy.

The EU's tariffs will target three main types of United States products: consumer goods (jeans, shirts, cosmetics, boats, motorcycles), agricultural products (corn, bourbon, orange juice), and industrial products (steel). Most recently, former President Barack Obama announced tariffs on imported Chinese steel in 2016. "Right now", he told reporters, he is "100 percent" backing the tariffs - "but it could be a part of NAFTA", he added, referring to the ongoing negotiations with Mexico and Canada.

EDITORIAL: Trump could blunder his way into a trade war
Germany and EU hit back at Donald Trump's trade war threat

The problem he faces is that the big three German manufactures - Volkswagen Group, Mercedes-Benz and BMW - all have a significant manufacturing presence in the USA, with more than 100,000 people employed in the factories and second tier industries, often in southern, Trump-supporting states.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer smile during a joint news conference on the closing of the seventh round of NAFTA talks in Mexico City, Mexico yesterday.

"Outside of the U.S. the sense that I have at the moment is that people are re-embracing free trade after a bit of a wobble - partly driven by the result of several elections", he told a business conference in Sydney. "Our country has been taken advantage of by everybody - nearly everybody".

And GOP congressional leaders suggested they may attempt to prevent the tariffs if the president moves forward.

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"The European Union has been particularly tough on the United States", Trump said as he hosted Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven at the White House. "As soon as he exempts one country his phone starts ringing from the heads of state of other countries".

The problem for the Canadian government is to find ways to retaliate "that will hit American interests the most and Canadian interests the least", said Gordon Ritchie, who helped Canada negotiate its original free trade agreement with the United States in the late 1980s and was involved in North American Free Trade Agreement talks as well. Consumers benefit from lower production costs made possible by allowing the import of materials, like steel and aluminum, with little or no tariffs.

Lidington also says Britain's experience shows that protectionism doesn't work.

"The trade war hurts them".

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Former president George W. Bush tried steel tariffs back in 2002, though Canada was exempted.

Most responses to Trump's proposed tariffs have been targeted.

But the speaker says there's a "smarter way to go" and Republicans are trying to convince Trump to "go after the true abusers without creating any kind of unintended consequences or collateral damage".

Trump tweeted earlier yesterday that "Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed".

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Goldman Sachs has blasted Donald Trump's plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium, saying the "draconian" move had created friction with key U.S. allies.

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