MEPs have criticised the decision of US President Donald Trump to impose heavy tariffs on trade in steel and aluminum.

Tariffs of 25% are to be placed on steel and 10% on aluminium imported into the US. This represents 5.1 billion Euros and 1.1 billion Euros of EU exports respectively.  

However, German MEP Helmut Scholz (Die Linke), member of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade (INTA), cautioned against the EU entering into a reckless trade war:

“Acting with a sense of proportion does not mean ‘an eye for an eye’. It would be wrong to fall for the provocation of President Trump and enter into a trade war.”

“Trump wants conflict for domestic political reasons,” Scholz said, calling for multilateralism:

“We call for solutions that are multilateral and benefit all peoples disadvantaged by world trade. Poverty, social inequality, environmental destruction are common problems around the world. Trump exploiting these real problems to boost his ego and persona reminds us of the urgency to tackle and solve these problems for everyone, in Europe or elsewhere.”

Trump argued that the tariffs are to protect US jobs but French MEP Patrick Le Hyaric (Front de Gauche) sees the measures as aimed at enriching industry bosses:

“It is clear that Trump’s decision constitutes a declaration of war against the steel and aluminium sectors in the EU. It threatens thousands of jobs and the livelihoods in towns and cities. This type of protectionism is combined with the lowering of corporate tax rates in the US and the competitive fluctuation of the dollar. This will lead to a rise in interest rates and inflation, which constitutes a de facto tax on the people and fuel for the financial markets.”

“This type of trade war is very dangerous for workers on both sides of the Atlantic and the whole world. The solution is not an economic war but better protection for workers on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Irish MEP Matt Carthy (Sinn Féin) concurred:

“Donald Trump does not care about lower income workers, their jobs, their wages or their rights. We know this from his actions in providing tax breaks for the rich and regular attacks on vital services such as healthcare.”

“But he was elected because he exploited the genuine concerns of many working people in the US, people who haven’t received the benefits of free trade and globalisation. People who have lost their jobs and their faith in politics. Trump’s latest action in imposing trade tariffs must be seen in this context. “

Carthy urged the Commission to rethink its free trade policy and take responsibility for its consequences:

“The Commission is playing into Trump’s game. By promoting a dangerous trade agenda through deals such as CETA and Mercosur the EU will increase the alienation and distrust that is already soared in many member states.”

“Any honest observer will attest that this agenda, rather than enriching everyone, is actually exacerbating a race to the bottom on global labour rights and standards. If we want to respond effectively to Trumpism then we need to abandon a trade agenda that will only widen inequalities in Europe and across the globe,” Carthy concluded.

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