European Union official's response to Trump tariffs: 'We can also do stupid'

European Commission Vice President Jyrki Tapani Katainen speaks during a media conference regarding steel tariffs

European Commission Vice President Jyrki Tapani Katainen speaks during a media conference regarding steel tariffs Credit AP

The trade chiefs of the European Union and Japan are holding talks about U.S. President Donald Trump's plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium amid fears they could trigger a broader trade war.

At the meeting in Brussels, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and Japanese counterpart Hiroshige Seko discussed the tariffs as part of a trilateral effort to combat unfair trade practices.

Mr Trump's announcement of duties of 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminium has stung the European Union and triggered warnings of an all-out global trade war.

After meetings with USA trade envoy Robert Lighthizer inBrussels, EU and Japanese trade officials said negotiations would need to continue.

The EU is one of the largest sources of US steel imports and a major market for American products.

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.

"As a close security and trade partner of the USA, the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures", Malmstrom wrote on Twitter.

"I had a frank discussion with the USA side about the serious pending issue of steel/aluminum tariffs", the top European Union trade official, Cecilia Malmström, wrote on Twitter after the meeting.

Saturday's meetings in Brussels had been previously planned but took on greater importance because of Trump's announcement of a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

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French President Emmanuel Macron warned his United States counterpart against forging ahead with the planned tariffs, saying they risked provoking a mutually destructive "trade war".

In announcing the measures, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker taunted Trump, saying the EU could match "stupid with stupid".

"If they drop their horrific barriers and tariffs on USA products going in, we will likewise drop ours".

Trump's announcement of the US tariff, which will take effect 15 days after he formally unveiled them Thursday, has sparked fears of a new trade war and has triggered global dissent. Big deficit. If not, we tax cars etc.

On Friday, Trump appeared to add Australia to the exempt list when he tweeted that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull "is committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship".

Seko said he also told Lighthizer that steel and aluminum produced in Japan, which is a USA ally, have no negative impact on United States national security.

The tweet was one of several Trump sent on trade, mixed in with claims about negotiations with North Korea and a special election in Pennsylvania, where Trump is scheduled to campaign at Saturday evening.

UK Steel says 7% of its steel exports go to the USA, worth £360m. "Now we have a different approach".

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