EghtesadOnline: The European Union gave President Donald Trump a fresh warning about any U.S. curbs on imports from Europe by pledging swift retaliation, highlighting the persistent risk of a trans-Atlantic trade war.
The EU fired the shot across the U.S. bow after Trump said in an interview with ITVbroadcast over the weekend that he has “a lot of problems with the European Union.” This “may morph into something very big” from “a trade standpoint,” Bloomberg quoted him as saying.
The alert by the European Commission also follows Trump’s decision last week to invoke rarely used “safeguard” rules to impose tariffs on U.S. imports of solar panels and washing machines. It also comes amid a continuing threat by Washington to curb American purchases of foreign steel and aluminum on national-security grounds.
“The European Union stands ready to react swiftly and appropriately in case our exports are affected by any restrictive trade measures from the United States,” Margaritis Schinas, chief spokesman of the commission, the 28-nation EU’s executive arm, told reporters on Monday in Brussels. He declined to elaborate, saying his “point is better understood if I don’t.”
The EU is seeking to keep markets open worldwide in the face of Trump’s anti-globalization stance and to underscore the bloc’s continuing commercial clout as the U.K. prepares to leave in March 2019. The EU recently struck free-trade pacts with Canada and Japan, is pushing to wrap up a deal with Latin America and is gearing up for talks with Australia and New Zealand.
Last Thursday, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the Trump administration has left the world perplexed by withdrawing from global affairs and has given the EU more scope to act.
“Many countries are puzzled a little bit about the lack of leadership from the United States,” Malmstrom said on Jan. 25. “They are disengaging from the global scene; that leaves a place open for the European Union to show that we can do good trade agreements.”