'Trade wars bad and easy to lose', Tusk warns Trump

'Trade wars bad and easy to lose', Tusk warns Trump

BRUSSELS, March 9 (Reuters) - The European Union expects to be excluded from usa steel and aluminium tariffs but will go to the World Trade Organization to impose its own measures if Washington presses ahead, EU officials said on Friday.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem told reporters in Brussels that Trump's rationale appears to invoke the worldwide legal right to protect national security.

U.S. President Donald Trump set import tariffs on Thursday of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum but exempted Canada and Mexico and offered the possibility of excluding other allies, backtracking from an earlier stance.

He said EU leaders should aim "to keep world trade alive and if necessary to protect Europeans against trade turbulences".

As many - including the markets - predicted, when the time came for Trump to pull the trigger on trade, he went soft.

Malmstrom said she still believed a solution could be found but added she was prepared to take action at the World Trade Organisation if the US extended the tariffs to European Union producers.

The EU's trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Brussels on Saturday but the EU executive said the talks would not solve all the problems.

However, he exempted, at least temporarily, Mexico and Canada, and suggested the "great country" of Australia would also be spared, along with "possibly other countries as well" who were "real friends". "Ironically, estimates also show that the USA could also suffer a net loss of jobs as a result of the measure".

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European industry associations called on Malmstrom to react to the tariffs.

"The loss of exports to the US, combined with an expected massive import surge in the European Union could cost tens of thousands of jobs in the European Union steel industry and related sectors", Eggert said.

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

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

Those threats have been overblown, according to Dani Rodrik, professor of worldwide political economy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and one of the world's leading experts on trade.

Within minutes of Trump's announcement, U.S. Republican Senator Jeff Flake, a critic of the president, said he would introduce a bill to nullify the tariffs.

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, requested USA officials to support Seoul's request for a waiver, a presidential spokesperson said.

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