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EU: US Tariffs Distorting Trade Flows  04/18 06:15

   Europe's top trade official said Wednesday that new U.S. steel and aluminum 
tariffs are distorting global trade and could damage hopes for economic growth.

   BRUSSELS (AP) -- Europe's top trade official said Wednesday that new U.S. 
steel and aluminum tariffs are distorting global trade and could damage hopes 
for economic growth.

   Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Union's trade commissioner, also said the 
bloc would not offer any concessions in order to be exempt from the U.S. import 
duties ahead of a May 1 deadline in talks.

   "We are a seeing a recovery and a potential growth in trade and global 
growth but it is threatened by these tariffs," she told reporters in 
Strasbourg, France. "We can see already tendencies of distortion of trade that 
affects the EU as well."

   Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump slapped tariffs of 25 percent on 
steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum, but granted the EU a 
temporary exemption until May 1. He also temporarily exempted big steel 
producers Canada and Mexico --- provided they agree to renegotiate a North 
American trade deal to his satisfaction.

   The EU has drawn up a list of "rebalancing" duties worth some 2.8 billion 
euros ($3.4 billion) to slap on U.S. products if it is not permanently excluded.

   Describing the U.S. tariffs as "pure protectionism," Malmstrom said the EU 
would not be strong-armed into giving up any sweeteners in exchange for a 
permanent exemption, amid rumors that Brussels might be preparing some kind of 
trade offer.

   "We have not offered the U.S. anything. We are not going to offer them 
anything to get exceptions from tariffs that we consider are not in compliance 
with the WTO," she said, referring to global trade's governing body, the World 
Trade Organization.

   "We expect to be permanently and unconditionally exempted from these 
measures," said Malmstrom. She added that talks with Washington are continuing 
but that the EU has received no guarantees yet.

   Malmstrom also expressed concern about trade tensions between the U.S. and 
China, describing a possible escalation as "something that could be very 
worrisome for the global economy."

   Her remarks came as the European Commission announced that it had wrapped up 
negotiations with Japan and Singapore on major trade and investment deals and 
that it hoped the new pacts can be endorsed by EU countries and enter force by 
late next year.

   EU Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen hailed them as a victory for 
rules-based trade and the multilateral system.

   "It's always worrisome if any of our partners are willing to take unilateral 
action against us, or against any of us," he said, but he noted that "support 
for multilateralism has strengthened recently because of unilateral actions."


(KA)

 
 
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