EU slams trade ‘bullies’ as Trump row deepens

European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstroem said that Europe will not be intimidated by protectionism. (AP)
Updated 13 March 2018
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EU slams trade ‘bullies’ as Trump row deepens

BRUSSELS: The EU said Europe would not waver against trade “bullies” as a row with US President Donald Trump over controversial steel and aluminum tariffs deepened.
The jab from Brussels came after the US president singled out Europe in the surging trade row, threatening to tax German cars if the EU does not lower barriers to US products.
Trump’s threat was part of a dispute sparked by his announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, although the “America First” Trump administration has said it will consider exceptions and has already spared Mexico and Canada.
The announcement of duties of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum has stung the EU, coming as a surprise to US allies and to many in Washington.
“In some places trade has been to blame for the pains of globalization or they used it as a scapegoat or they think we can live behind walls and borders,” European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said at a trade conference in Brussels.
“Recently we have seen how it is used as a weapon to threaten and intimidate us. But we are not afraid, we will stand up to the bullies,” she said.
Brussels has pushed back the hardest against Washington’s shock measures, loudly announcing a list of US products — including peanuts and motorcycles — it could hit with countermeasures.
In revealing those measures, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker taunted Trump, saying the EU could match “stupid with stupid.”
Other trade partners, including Japan and China, have also voiced anger and pledged retaliation if the US tariffs are enacted as expected on March 23.
Many traditionally pro-trade Republican lawmakers in the US also fiercely oppose the tariffs, saying they might help steel and aluminum makers, but would mean higher prices on many other products.
Malmstroem held fruitless talks in Brussels on Saturday with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer aimed at defusing the row and avoiding an all-out trade war.
“Dialogue is always the prime option for the EU,” European Commission spokesman Enrico Brivio said at a news briefing.
“But of course the EU also continues the preparations to ensure a firm and proportionate response in line with the WTO rules in the event US measures should be applied,” he added.
The negotiations between the EU and US are to win an exception for Europe from the tariffs, with Brussels seeking clarity on how to achieve that.
The EU said those efforts will continue this week, though no details for further talks have yet been announced.


‘Get prices down’ Trump tells OPEC

Updated 20 September 2018
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‘Get prices down’ Trump tells OPEC

  • Trump highlights US security role in region
  • Comments come ahead of oil producers meeting in Algeria

LONDON: US president Donald Trump urged OPEC to lower crude prices on Thursday while reminding Mideast oil exporters of US security support.
He made his remarks on Twitter ahead of a keenly awaited meeting of OPEC countries and its allies in Algiers this weekend as pressure mounts on them to prevent a spike in prices caused by the reimposition of oil sanctions on Iran.
“We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices!” he tweeted.
“We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!”
Despite the threat, the group and its allies are unlikely to agree to an official increase in output, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing OPEC sources.
In June they agreed to increase production by about one million barrels per day (bpd). That decision was was spurred by a recovery in oil prices, in part caused by OPEC and its partners agreeing to lower production since 2017.
Known as OPEC+, the group of oil producers which includes Russia are due to meet on Sunday in Algiers to look at how to allocate the additional one million bpd within its quote a framework.
OPEC sources told Reuters that there was no immediate plan for any official action as such a move would require OPEC to hold what it calls an extraordinary meeting, which is not on the table.
Oil prices slipped after Trumps remarks, with Brent crude shedding 40 cents to $79 a barrel in early afternoon trade in London while US light crude was unchanged at about $71.12.
Brent had been trading at around $80 on expectations that global supplies would come under pressure from the introduction of US sanctions on Iranian crude exports on Nov. 4.
Some countries has already started to halt imports from Tehran ahead of that deadline, leading analysts to speculate about how much spare capacity there is in the Middle East to compensate for the loss of Iranian exports as well as how much of that spare capacity can be easily brought online after years of under-investment in the industry.
Analysts expect oil to trend higher and through the $80 barrier as the deadline for US sanctions approaches.
“Brent is definitely fighting the $80 line, wanting to break above,” said SEB Markets chief commodities analyst Bjarne Schieldrop, Reuters reported. “But this is likely going to break very soon.”