Trump to EU: We'll drop our tariffs if you drop yours

Alex Wong  Getty Images North America

When it comes to numbers, US President Donald Trump worries little about precision.

And German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for an exemption for the entire bloc.

Trump followed through with his threats by announcing on Friday, his decision to impose the aforementioned tariffs on all countries except Mexico and Canada, with who the US administration is working out a refurbished North American Free Trade Agreement.

The United States president signed proclamations on Thursday 8 of March 2018 slapping the aluminium and steel tariffs that will affect other countries within 15 days.

He also said he would show "great flexibility and cooperation for those who were truly friends of ours both in trade and security terms", but he did not exempt the EU.

"We call for calm-headed behavior", he told reporters.

Mexico and Canada, both of whom are among the largest steel exporters to the US, have already been excluded from the tariffs.

UK Steel says 7% of its steel exports go to the United States, worth £360m.

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz has already anxious publicly that trade fears are having an adverse effect on jobs and the economy as companies hold off on investments until they see whether a NAFTA deal can be done.

Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen warned Washington on Friday not to expect any concessions to win an exemption.

Despite the region's oil wealth and unlikelihood that any tariffs would be imposed on energy imports from the Gulf, the GCC remains vulnerable to any widespread economic downturn, said Monica de Bolle, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics based in Washington DC.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Mr Trump's tariff decision was "very disappointing".

The European Union and Japan, the United States' top economic and military ally in Asia, also reiterated that their exports were not a threat to USA national security, rejecting Trump's justification for imposing the tariffs.

There was strong opposition from within Mr Trump's own Republican Party, which is traditionally in favour of free trade.

Gerd Goetz, the head European Aluminium, said the U.S. measures "could have severe economic consequences for SME's [small and medium-sized enterprises] in countries such as Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Sweden and in central and east European countries".

The tariffs rollout has been rife with confusion and dissension in the White House.

Missouri, by the way, could be hit hard by Trump's tariffs.

"As has been in the past, what President Trump says and what finally actually materialises are two different things", Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas, told Reuters.

Trump said he was merely fulfilling a campaign promise, saying he had been talking about perceived trade injustices "a long time, a lot longer than my political career".

Berlin backs the European Union in "seeking dialogue with the United States, but also with countries that could be affected, like China", she said.

Trump offered relief from steel and aluminum tariffs to countries that "treat us fairly on trade", a gesture aimed at putting pressure on Canada and Mexico to give ground in separate talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Countries have filed complaints about national security tariffs, but either the tariffs were dropped or the cases never proceeded.

Seko said he also conveyed Japan's concerns that the tariffs could take a toll on the multilateral trade system and disrupt the world's steel and aluminum markets.

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