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Despite global outrage, Trump says 'trade wars are good and easy to win'

Trump said on Thursday that tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium, designed to safeguard American jobs in the face of cheaper foreign products


US President Donald Trump waves to journalists as he arrives during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (Photo: AP/PTI)
US President Donald Trump (Photo: AP/PTI)

US said on Friday trade wars were good and easy to win, striking a defiant tone after global criticism of his plan to slap tariffs on imports of and aluminium that triggered a slide in world stock markets.

The pledged firm counter-measures, urged Trump to show restraint and Canada, the biggest supplier of and aluminium to the United States, said it would retaliate if it is hit by US duties.

Trump said on Thursday that tariffs of 25 percent on imports and 10 percent on aluminium, designed to safeguard American jobs in the face of cheaper foreign products, would be formally announced next week.

"When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win," Trump tweeted on Friday.

"Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don't trade anymore-we win big. It's easy!" the U.S. wrote.

The European Commission, the EU executive, called the tariffs a blatant intervention that amounted to protectionism.

While promising to act "firmly", the European Union, which sees itself as a global counterweight to a protectionist-leaning Trump, made no mention of retaliation but spoke of counter-measures that confirm with (WTO) rules.

"We see international trade relations as a win-win situation," a said.

"We don't see this as a situation where, like in a zero-sum game, one party loses because another party wins. Trade is beneficial for everyone. It needs to take place on the basis of rules and these rules are in place."

Safeguard measures, last deployed by in 2002 after then U.S. imposed import duties, would be designed to guard against and aluminium being diverted to from elsewhere if U.S. tariffs come in.

But to conform with WTO rules such measures would have to apply to imports from all countries and could also hit producers from China, India, Russia, to


Fears of retaliation from Canada, and sent world stocks tumbling and drove investors towards the traditional safe plays of government bonds and the Japanese yen. Europe's index fell 1.5 percent, following declines on Wall Street and in Asian markets.

"It is a real worry because is an open global economy so it isn't just about U.S. versus China," said Ian Ormiston, European at Global Investors. "And we will see retaliation there are no two ways about it."

has become a key focus for Trump, who pledged to restore the U.S. industry and punish what he sees as unfair trade practices, particularly by

Although accounts for only 2 percent of imports, its massive industry expansion has helped produce a global glut that has driven down prices.

"urges the to show restraint in using protective trade measures, respect multilateral trade rules, and make a positive contribution to international trade order," said

Asian steelmakers also worry that U.S. tariffs could result in their domestic markets being flooded with products that have nowhere else to go.

South Korea, the third-largest exporter to the after and Brazil, said it would keep talking to U.S. officials until Washington's plans are finalised.

ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker with sizeable European and U.S. operations, said it was assessing the likely impact, although it said governments were right to take a tough approach to unfair trade.

First Published: Fri, March 02 2018. 18:53 IST