US protectionism causes glut in European steel supply

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Berlin, May 8 (IANS) New tariffs imposed by US President Donald Trump on international imports of steel have led to a sharp rise in the supply of commodity on European markets, the Federation of the German Steel Industry warned on Monday.

Hans Juergen Kerkhoff, President of the Federation of the German Steel Industry, told newspaper “Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung” that the first months of 2018 had already witnessed a surge in steel exports from countries like Russia and Turkey to Europe, Xinhua reported.

Kerkhoff urged the European Union (EU) to take countervailing measures against negative ripple effects of Trump’s “America First” doctrine.

Although Washington has temporarily extended an exemption enjoyed by the EU from US tariffs, the related commercial challenges encountered by members of the association drew attention to the indirect harm caused by protectionism to Europe and the wider world economy.

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Representatives of the EU Commission are currently negotiating with US trade officials in an attempt to obtain a permanent exclusion for the bloc from steel and aluminium tariffs.

Meanwhile, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, while speaking to the public broadcaster “ARD” on Sunday night, expressed “genuine concern” that the trade conflict unleashed by Trump could result in lasting damage to traditionally close diplomatic ties between Berlin and Washington.

Steinmeier said that “substantial change” had occurred in the nature of the wider transatlantic alliance, lamenting that European and US societies were increasingly drifting apart.

He said the US administration no longer seemed to see itself as “belonging to a community of nations which cooperates and shares values.” The “sometimes irritating” twitter diplomacy of Trump was only a relatively small problem compared to the refusal of Washington to embrace multilateralism in addressing economic and political challenges in this context.

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Nevertheless, Steinmeier emphasized that Germany remained committed to a vision of global governance where nations cooperated constructively instead of imposing their will through brute force. He highlighted that Berlin would also continue to defend the Iran nuclear accord questioned by Trump.

–IANS

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