European Union says talks 'the prime option' in USA tariffs row

European Union says talks 'the prime option' in USA tariffs row

European Union says talks 'the prime option' in USA tariffs row

Malmstroem said negotiations would continue next week, after crunch talks with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer failed to defuse a bitter row that many fear could turn into an all-out trade war. But he exempted Canada and Mexico and held out the possibility of excluding other allies.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday warned his U.S. counterpart Trump against forging ahead with the planned tariffs, saying they risked provoking a mutually destructive "trade war".

She predicted a "long day" of talks on Saturday, while European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen sought to play down expectations, saying it was "a meeting, not THE meeting". Both powers, two of the biggest trade partners with the United States, have asked for exemptions from the tariffs.

The EU and Japan a year ago formally agreed the broad outlines of a landmark trade deal that was announced as a direct challenge to the protectionism championed by Trump.

Mr Trump says the measures will "protect the American worker" and fulfil a campaign promise.

The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28-nation EU, the world's biggest trading bloc, has said it is ready to impose safeguards, tariffs or quotas to protect its own steel and aluminium industries from products diverted to Europe because of the USA measures.

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Malmstrom told reporters the European Union was ready to complain to the World Trade Organisation, and retaliate within 90 days.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that no one will win a "race to the bottom" and said the tariffs risked "hurting everyone". European steel producers are concerned about a loss of market access, but also that steel from elsewhere will flood in. "China would have to make a justified and necessary response", he added.

Beijing vowed to "firmly defend its legitimate rights and interests".

Last year, China imported 3.2 million tonnes of USA coal, worth about $420 million and almost five times the amount it took in 2016.

Industry body U.K. Steel also expressed concern and called on the U.K. and the European Union to push for national exemptions.

Brazil is the United States' No. 2 steel supplier.

While carrying a message to Washington to push forward a diplomatic breakthrough over North Korea, South Korea's national security office chief Chung Eui-yong asked United States officials to support Seoul's request for a waiver, a presidential spokesman said.

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