#Trade: EU to seek clarification on United States proposals before imposing counter measures

EU ready for a 'stupid' trade war if Trump follows through with tariffs

The Latest: 18 trade partners urge US to reconsider tariffs

Germany has called for multilateral talks to address overcapacity in the steel sector and said it supports the European Union plans to respond if Mr Trump presses ahead with the tariffs.

The EU is seeking clarity from Washington about whether the 28-nation bloc will be exempted from the USA tariffs, just like it did to Canada and Mexico.If not, the EU has threatened retaliatory tariffs on US products.

The EU insists that it is committed to open, global trade, and that Trump's tariffs are a protective measure to prop up USA industry that could undermine the worldwide trading system.

The EU says that its exports should be excluded from the measures. "It meant in practice that in the USA they lost thousands and thousands of jobs", Katainen said. "But it is clear that the EU will have to respond to the unilateral introduction of USA tariffs", said the Vice-President of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis.

Malmstrom said she would discuss the issue at a long-planned meeting on Saturday with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his Japanese counterpart Hiroshige Seko, noting that it was "not crystal clear" what Trump had decided Thursday.

Under World Trade Organisation rules, such counter-measures have to be in place within 90 days of the U.S. tariffs entering force.

The EU is also maintaining a threat of counter-measures that would target United States imports ranging from maize to motorcycles and may publish its list next week to allow industry and other interested parties to give their input.

"The loss of exports to the United States, 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 EUROFER.

With Japan a major trade partner and global investor, Suga said that, on the contrary, they contributed greatly to employment and industry in the United States.

Yesterday's announcement from the White House that it would slap levies on imports of the key metals was met with anger from major trading partners like China, Japan and the EU. "However, it is our goal to avoid a trade war".

Turnbull added Australia had "the closest possible military and security alliance with the United States and it gets closer all of the time". It represented $2.2 billion in US exports to the EU.

"At least in the near term, prospects for German industry have never looked rosier", economist Carsten Brzeski of ING Diba bank said after official data showed industrial production held steady in January.

Mr Seko called for calm-headed behaviour in the dispute.

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