EU and Trump: Heading Toward Tariff War?


The US intends to export more liquefied natural gas, but hindering the construction of Nord Stream 2 does not per se guarantee Washington’s sales growth, the German Minister of Economics and Energy warned.

Washington pursues its own goals when it tries to prevent the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, Altmayer said as quoted by Reuters. 

“They have an extensive infrastructure of terminals for liquefied natural gas, which they must use to their advantage,” Altmayer said. 

According to the minister, the US remains friends and partners of Germany, but Berlin prefers to protect “common values”. If Washington follows the principle of “America first ” and protects primarily its own interests, then the US should understand that Europe will defend its own, he went on to say. 

Altmeyer also noted that liquefied natural gas (LNG) will still cost more than gas delivered by pipelines. “Blocking the Nord Stream-2 in itself will not guarantee exports,” he stressed. 

The day before The Wall Street Journal reported that US President Donald Trump is putting pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel so that Berlin would abandon the construction of the Nord Stream-2. In return, Trump offered Merkel to negotiate a new trade agreement between the US and the EU. In case they the parties fail to come to an agreement, the EU will have to pay increased duties on steel and aluminum starting June 1. 

Earlier, the United States also threatened European companies with sanctions if they did not curtail their activities in Iran after Washington renewed the sanctions regime against Tehran. The US State Department also recalled that because of the restrictive measures that the US slammed on Russia, any company that cooperates with Russia in the energy sector – in any region of the world – is running the risk of falling under sanctions. 

The EU intends to protect European companies doing business with Iran from US sanctions, French President Emmanuel Macron said at the end of the EU summit in Bulgaria. 

“The EU is even ready to talk about trade liberalization with our American friends but only if the U.S. decides an unlimited exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs,” said EU Council President Donald Tusk after chairing the summit. 

Trump signed an order to impose a 25% duty on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports from all countries except Canada and Mexico, with which Washington is bound by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), in March 2018. 

In relation to the EU, new duties were to enter into force on May 1, but the White House went on a postponement until June 1, hoping to reach an agreement with the allies. Fees already apply to suppliers from China, Russia and Japan. 

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