Germany WARNS USA: National security concerns could see MORE trade restrictions
Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries wrote a letter to her US counterpart Wilbur Ross, revealing her "serious concerns" about the United States' "unilateral" approach to trade policy, following President Trump's announcement of imminent tariffs on steel and aluminium.
Ms Zypries wrote: ”The 'national security' argument could set a precedent.
“The fear is that a series of other countries could use the national security argument to shut off their markets.
“That would risk undermining global trade rules thrashed out laboriously over decades.
Yesterday, Ms Zypries also expressed alarm about the resignation of Mr Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, who was seen as a moderating voice in the White House.
She said: “The situation is serious.”
Ms Zypries is leading a chorus of condemnation towards Mr Trump’s steel and tariff penalties by European leaders.
President Trump said last week the United States would apply 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminium to protect domestic producers, prompting major trading partners to threaten retaliation.
Denmark's foreign minister Anders Samuelsen said no one will end up winning if a trade war ensues between the US and the European Union.
Mr Samuelsen said “at the end of the day, European and American consumers will pay for it”, adding Mr Trump's proposed trade tariffs are "a bad call."
He said: ”That is the signal we have to send to Trump that it is not a path we should follow."
The White House said the US leader is set to sign a presidential proclamation to establish the tariffs by the end of the week, with a 30-day exemption for Canada and Mexico which could be extended.
Mexico, Canada and other US allies may be spared from President Trump’s planned steel and aluminium tariffs under national security “carve-outs”.
The move could soften the blow amid threats of retaliation by trading partners and dire economic warnings from lawmakers and business groups.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters the exemptions would be made on a “case by case” and “country by country” basis, a reversal from the policy articulated just days ago that there would be no exemptions from Mr Trump’s plan.
The announcement came as congressional Republicans and business groups braced for the impact of expected tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminium, appearing resigned to additional protectionist trade actions as Trump signalled upcoming economic battles with China.
The President has said the tariffs are needed to reinforce lagging American steel and aluminium industries and protect national security.
He has tried to use the tariffs as leverage in ongoing talks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, suggesting Canada and Mexico might be exempted from tariffs if they offer more favourable terms under NAFTA.
Lawmakers opposed to the tariffs, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have suggested more narrowly focused approaches to target Chinese imports.
But members of Congress have few tools at their disposal to counter the president, who has vowed to fulfil his campaign pledge.
Senator John Cornyn, who has suggested hearings on the tariffs said: “I don’t think the president is going to be easily deterred.”