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European Union says talks 'the prime option' in United States tariffs row

European Union says talks 'the prime option' in United States tariffs row

Japan has warned of the dangers of tit-for-tat measures.

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.

Brussels is also looking at "safeguard" measures to protect its industry - restricting the bloc's imports of steel and aluminum to stop foreign supplies flooding the European market, which is allowed under World Trade Organization rules.

Lighthizer didn't comment publicly after the meetings.

In Sydney, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said there is no case for imposing tariffs on Australian steel. Not fair or sustainable.

Trump insisted in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron - a leading European Union player staunchly opposed to the tariffs - that the "decision is necessary and appropriate to protect national security".

"We need a dialogue with the United States".

More news: Mexico exempt from new tariffs-for now

Trade representatives for Japan and the European Union met with the USA trade representative Saturday in an effort to avoid a trade war over President Donald Trump's new tariffs on aluminum and steel.

Other officials at the EU, by far the biggest trading partner of the United States by value, have warned it could take counter-measures including European tariffs on U.S. oranges, tobacco and bourbon. Hiroshige Seko told a news conference Mr Lighthizer had only explained the schedule and procedure of the USA actions in talks in Brussels.

Malmstrom told reporters the European Union was ready to complain to the World Trade Organisation, and retaliate within 90 days.

Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier said he expects countries in addition to Mexico and Canada to be exempted in the next couple of weeks.

Asked at the conference whether she was ready to react if the 28-country European Union was included in the United States tariffs, Ms Malmstrom said she stood ready to go to the WTO, the global trade arbiter, to impose the bloc's own safeguards within 90 days.

Last year, China imported 3.2 million tons of USA coal, worth about $420 million and almost five times the amount it took in 2016. The U.S. bought 5 percent of Japan's steel a year ago but just 1.1 percent of China's steel. Earlier this week she warned the U.S. tariffs could jeopardise thousands of European jobs.

A Eurofer spokesman also warned that the US's punitive tariffs not only make market access more hard for European steel but could flood Europe with imports from other nations unable to get into the U.S. market, pushing prices down and endangering EU jobs.


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