France’s President Emmanuel Macron slammed the US move to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, calling the decision “unlawful” and a “mistake.”
The decision on tariffs made by the US President Donald Trump closed doors to the talks with Washington on other issues, Macron said as cited by Reuters.
“This decision is not only unlawful but it is a mistake in many respects,” Macron said. “Economic nationalism leads to war.”
The French president also announced telephone talks with his US counterpart, expected to take place later on Thursday.
The US president’s decision to scrap the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and today’s move to finally impose the tariffs on Europe, have definitely soured the “bromance” between him and Macron, which blossomed only a month ago.
The French president earlier vowed to maintain the relationship with Iran and protect European companies from any hostile moves on part of the US.
The initial tariffs were announced in March by the US President Donald Trump, who claimed that the US had been treated unfairly by its trade partners for years.
The decision included a worldwide 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.
The EU, Canada, Mexico and a number of other countries, however were temporarily exempted from the harsh tariffs for a month.
The tariffs were waived again a month ago, after “some potentially fruitful discussions about an overall reduction in trade tensions” as US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross put it back then.
The decision to extend the exemptions, however, was accompanied with hostile rhetoric from Trump himself, who even stated that the EU was ultimately founded to rip the US off.
While the imposing of the tariffs is perceived in the US as a mean of “negotiating” with other counties, those targeted see them as a threat and effectively a declaration of trade war.
“We look forward to continued negotiations, both with Canada and Mexico on the one hand, and with the European Commission on the other hand, because there are other issues that we also need to get resolved,” Ross said, announcing the end of the exemptions on Thursday.
Canada, which is the largest supplier of steel to the US has already unveiled retaliatory tariffs, which cover C$16.6 billion in imports from the US, including whiskey, orange juice and other products.
The EU has also vowed to respond to the US tariff in short order, but has not made any steps as of yet.
“This is a bad day for world trade. So, we will immediately introduce a settlement dispute with the WTO and will announce counter-balancing measures in the coming hours,” President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude said.