EU’s Malmström tells Trump there is still time to avoid trade conflict

EU trade chief Cecilia Malmström said Wednesday she hoped that U.S. President Donald Trump would reconsider his steel and aluminum tariffs and avoid a mutually destructive transatlantic trade war like that in 2002.

“I hope that someone in the White House has read the history book,” Malmström told reporters in Brussels. She was alluding to a 2002 decision by the U.S. administration to impose economic safeguards on steel imports — against which the EU retaliated — and which cost “thousands and thousands of American jobs,” according to the Swedish commissioner.

“We still hope, as a U.S. security partner, that the EU will be excluded” from tariffs, which are justified by national security Malmström said. She added: “We also hope to convince the U.S. administration” in a more general way “that this is not the right move.”

Malmström also took issue with Trump’s argument that he was protecting national security.

“We have serious doubt about that justification, we cannot see how the European Union, friends and allies in NATO, can be a threat to national security in the U.S,” she said.

“From what we understand the motivation of the U.S. is an economic safeguard measure in disguise, not a national security measure,” she continued. “That means that the EU is entitled” to retaliate under World Trade Organization rules.

POLITICO published an EU retaliation list on Tuesday.

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