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Politicians warn of consequences of US trade tariffs
Flanders’ minister-president has expressed deep concerns about the “unilateral, protectionist” measures introduced by US president Donald Trump on imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico.
The measures, effective from 1 June, raise the import tariffs on steel and aluminium to 25% and 10% respectively, in an attempt to protect US steelworkers.
“Only through fair and free trade will the world improve,” Geert Bourgeois said in a statement on Thursday. “Protectionist measures inevitably lead to repercussions. This leads to a downward spiral of trade conflicts and possibly worse.”
Bourgeois (pictured) called on the EU to continue fighting for constructive dialogue with Washington and to finalise trade agreements with Japan, Singapore, Mexico, Vietnam and the Mercosur South American trade bloc.
Belgian prime minister Charles Michel told journalists that the introduction of the tariffs was “a dark day for free trade”. He added: “We are in contact with the European Commission about taking retaliatory measures to show that Europe should be respected. It is unacceptable that we should negotiate with the United States under duress.”
The EU plans to challenge the move at the World Trade Organisation and has already issued a list of tariffs on US goods including Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Levi’s jeans and food and drink.
Photo: Laurie Dieffembacq/Belga