Unfair US steel and aluminium tariffs: European jobs must be protected from a global trade war!

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From today, the EU is subjected to harsh and unfair US tariffs on steel (25%) and aluminium (10%), after their temporary exemption under Section 232, ended at midnight last night. President Trump’s decision to punish EU industry, and its workers, has been met with criticism throughout Europe and is condemned by European trade unions.
 
Luis Colunga, Deputy General Secretary, said: 
 
‘’We are extremely disappointed by the decision to impose these huge unjustified tariffs on our steel and aluminium industries. This will have a devasting effect on European jobs and communities across Europe.
 
“The issues facing American workers are the same ones facing European workers: global overcapacity and unfair state aid. We must find a global solution to a global problem and a trade war is certainly not the answer. 
 
“Europe continues to play by the rules and we support fair international trade. It is completely unjust that European workers are being punished for a global problem. We continue to demand support for our steel and aluminium workers and need national governments and the European Commission to protect European jobs. European workers cannot, and should not, suffer from unfair dumping of cheap steel diverted from the US market.”
 
The European Commission will trigger a dispute settlement case with the WTO today and plans to rebalance the trade deficit by targeting a list of US products with additional duties. The European Commission will also decide on whether to put in place safeguard measures. IndustriAll Europe has taken part in the European Commission’s safeguard investigation and supports safeguards for the steel and aluminium to protect European jobs from the unfair dumping of cheap steel from third countries. 
 
 
Luc Triangle, General Secretary, added:
 
“The US has used the threat of these unfair tariffs to try and negotiate further trade deals with the EU. This is completely unacceptable, especially from the US, a long-term trading ally. We must avoid a global trade war which will benefit no one and will threaten thousands of jobs.
 
“We must prevent this dispute from escalating into other sectors , workers shouldn’t be punished. We will continue to work with our affiliated trade unions and call for safeguard measures to protect our workers. Nationalist and protectionist measures are not the answer and a trade war will benefit no one. industriAll Europe calls for global fair trade that creates progress for all workers’’
 
Background
 
On 1 March 2018, US President Trump announced his intention to impose import duties of 10% on aluminum and 25% on steel from the EU. This is following the US Department of Commerce’s report on the Section 232 investigation regarding the effect of imported steel on US national security. 
 
However, as the US Secretary of Defence has also stated that the US military requires approximately 3% of US steel production, any national security justification appears to be very weak.
 
The European steel market is in recovery but still suffers from high levels of steel imports, 40 million tonnes in 2017, despite multiple EU trade defence measures. 
 
On 23 March, the day that the tariffs were due to enter into force, the White House announced that the EU alongside Canada, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea would all be temporarily exempted until 1 May 2018. The EU was then granted a temporary exemption until 1 June, during which bilateral trade talks took place between the EU and the US. 
 
For further information, please contact: 
Elspeth Hathaway, elspeth.hathaway@industriall-europe.eu, +32 22 26 00 72

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