China, EU, Canada threaten retaliation if US starts trade war

US partners, including the EU and Canada, react to ‘unacceptable’ tariffs

Beijing said that it does not want a trade war with the US, but will refuse to sit idly by as Washington measures hurt its economy.

“China doesn’t want a trade was with the United States,” a spokesman for China’s parliament, Zhang Yesui, said on Sunday. “But if the US takes actions that hurt Chinese interests, China will not sit idly by and will take necessary measures.”

The comments came in response to US President Donald Trump’s announcement of plans to impose a 25% import tax on steel and 10% on aluminum  – a move which China’s Ministry of Commerce described as seriously damaging to the mechanisms of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The same ministry said it plans to work with other affected countries in order to safeguard their collective rights and interests.

“We’re going to build our steel industry back and our aluminum industry back,” Trump said, adding that the tariffs would not target specific countries or impose quotas.

On Friday, the president tweeted that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” On Saturday, he tweeted that the US has a “$800 billion dollar yearly trade deficit because of our ‘very stupid’ trade deals and policies. Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years.”

The decision by Washington is expected to come into force next week, and other US partners including EU and Canada have also reacted negatively.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker said that the trade restrictions were a “blatant intervention” for the sole purpose of protecting the US industry.

“We strongly regret this step, which appears to represent a blatant intervention to protect US domestic industry and not to be based on any national security justification,” Junker said. ‘We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk. The EU will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests.”

The European Union is the world’s biggest trading bloc and the second largest steel producer, with China being the first.

Junker added that retaliation measures may include EU-imposed tariffs on US brands such as Harley-Davidson and Levi’s.

Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Phillippe Champagne also called the tariffs “unacceptable” and vowed to protect his country’s workers.