European Union seeks clarity on whether it will be hit by USA tariffs

Video games have been linked to real-world violence, U.S. President Donald Trump told gaming industry leaders in a meeting on Thursday after a school shooting last month reignited a national debate over guns.

Is it just me or is there a contradiction developing at the heart of President Trump's linkage of movement on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations to the application of steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from Canada and Mexico?

Instead of putting the focus on the real issue and that is assault rifles like the ar-15 that was used to gun down 17 unarmed kids and teachers, Trump instead set hits un-tanned eyes on the video game industry.

Malmstroem said the real cause of the problem is an oversupply on global markets, and she rejected Trump's assertion that the tariffs are needed to protect USA national security, especially when most European Union countries are members of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

On several occasions, President Trump has pointed to video game violence as being a problem potentially affecting American youths.

Either sourcing steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico poses a threat to USA national security or it does not.

Malmström will have a chance to make the EU's case again on Saturday, when she meets US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Brussels. European steel producers are concerned about a loss of market access, but also that steel from elsewhere will flood in. It's second recommendation, if that 24% tariff was rejected, was to impose at least 53% on steel imports from 12 countries - non of which are in the EU: Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. And Trump took note of U.S. Steel's announcement that it planned to ramp up activity at its plant in Granite City, Illinois, and recall about 500 employees because of the new tariffs.

Brazil, the second-largest exporter of steel to the USA after Canada, is also the largest importer of US metallurgical-grade coal to fuel the steel-making furnaces. The tariffs would "seriously impact the normal order of worldwide trade", the Ministry of Commerce said. "History shows that these types of tariff fights escalate with our trading partners and result in farmers paying the price in the form of higher tariffs on the products we export". He told aides that he been proclaiming for 30 years that the United States needed a more protectionist approach, according to two White House officials not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

Whatever Washington lawmakers opt to do, they will have to reach a two-thirds majority vote to overcome a presidential veto - forcing Republicans to find support among the Democratic opposition, a challenge in its own right.

Some Democrats praised the move.

Malmstroem hinted that retaliation was still an option if everything else failed: "We will have to protect our industry with rebalancing measures".

While carrying a message to Washington to push forward a diplomatic breakthrough over North Korea, South Korea's national security office chief Chung Eui-yong requested US officials to support Seoul's request for a waiver, a presidential spokesman said.

  • Zachary Reyes