China said Sunday it does not intend to ignite a trade war with the U.S. because the move would be disastrous for the entire world.
“There are no winners in a trade war,” Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan said on the sidelines of China’s annual parliamentary session.
“China does not wish to fight a trade war, nor will China initiate a trade war, but we can handle any challenge and will resolutely defend the interests of our country and our people,” Zhong said.
President Donald Trump signed proclamations Thursday imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum, with the new taxes set to go into effect this month.
US, Japan, EU talk
Trade representatives for Japan and the European Union met with the U.S. trade representative Saturday in an effort to avoid a trade war over Trump’s new tariffs on aluminum and steel.
At the meeting in Brussels, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and Japanese counterpart Hiroshige Seko discussed the tariffs as part of a trilateral effort to combat unfair trade practices.
The EU said in a statement that both Brussels and Tokyo had serious concerns about the U.S. tariffs. Both powers, two of the biggest trade partners with the United States, have asked for exemptions from the tariffs.
After the meeting, Malmstrom tweeted, “No immediate clarity on the exact U.S. procedure for exemption ... so discussions will continue next week.”
“I firmly and clearly expressed my view that this is regrettable,” Seko said at a news conference following the meeting. “... I explained that this could have a bad effect on the entire multilateral trading system.”
Saturday afternoon, Trump accused the EU of treating “the U.S. very badly on trade.” He said if they drop their “horrific barriers & tariffs on U.S. products... we will likewise drop ours,” he wrote in a tweet.
If they don’t, he warned the U.S. would tax European cars and other products.
On Friday, the European Union said it is not clear whether the bloc will be exempt from Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.
EU Trade Commissioner Malmstrom said Friday in Brussels, “We hope that we can get confirmation that the EU is excluded from this.”
Canada and Mexico were given specific exemptions from the tariffs for an indefinite period while negotiations continue on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Brazil, South Korea and Australia have also asked for exemptions or special treatment.
Trump imposed the tariffs despite pleas from friends and allies who warned the new measure could ignite a trade war.