U.S. allies line up for exemptions from Trump's aluminum, steel tariffs

Speaking live on Denmark's TV2, Samuelsen said U.S. President Donald Trump's proposed trade tariffs are "a bad call".

Malmstrom warned the Trump administration against considering metal-tariff exemptions for only some European Union countries such as the United Kingdom.

"We want Congress to understand that this would be a lose-lose situation", he said.

Striking a defiant tone, European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen called Trump's speech protectionist, saying it remained unclear how a potential exclusion process would work.

China's metals industry issued the country's most explicit threat yet in the row, urging the government to retaliate by targeting USA coal - a sector that is central to Trump's political base and his election pledge to restore American industries and blue-collar jobs.

Brussels is also looking at "safeguard" measures to protect its industry - restricting the bloc's imports of steel and aluminium to stop foreign supplies flooding the European market, which is allowed under World Trade Organisation rules. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that Japan's steel and aluminum shipments posed no threat to US national security.

European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom holds a news conference in Brussels, Belgium March 7, 2018.

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Asked at the conference whether she was ready to react if the 28-country European Union was included in the US tariffs, Malmstrom said she stood ready to go to the WTO, the global trade arbiter, to impose the bloc's own safeguards within 90 days.

Malmstrom won support from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who coordinates policy for the world's biggest trading bloc, said she shared US concerns about overcapacity in the steel sector but did not believe in tariffs as a way to solve the problem.

He said other countries could be spared if they can convince the administration that their steel and aluminum exports don't threaten American industry.

"The loss of exports to the US, combined with an expected massive import surge in the European Union, could cost tens of thousands of jobs in the European Union steel industry and related sectors", said Axel Eggert, head of steel association. Tariffs would "seriously impact the normal order of global trade", the Commerce Ministry said.

Trump has long railed against what he deems unfair trade practices by China and others, and last week declared that he would levy penalties of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports. Trump has championed coal exports as demand from power firms at home weakens.

South Korea´s national security office chief Chung Eui-yong asked USA officials to support Seoul´s request for a waiver, a presidential spokesman said.

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