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Trump charges Ross with pushing EU to lower tariffs, EU objects


By Philip and Chiacu

BRUSSELS/(Reuters) - U.S. will urge the to lower its trade barriers, U.S. said on Monday, calling them unfair to U.S. farmers and industry, a view the EU firmly rejects.

The accused Trump of "cherry-picking" data to distort the debate in a transatlantic dispute that threatens to become a trade war.

The EU is seeking to be exempted from planned U.S. import duties of 25 percent on and 10 percent on aluminium, but says has not made clear how the exemption process works.

Trump said in a tweet on Saturday the was ready to drop its tariffs if the EU lowered its "horrific" rates on U.S. products. On Monday, he tweeted that Ross would be speaking with EU representatives about eliminating "large tariffs and barriers".

"Not fair to our farmers and manufacturers," he wrote.

Representatives from the did not immediately respond to queries on the content or timing of those discussions.

French said he was worried about the possibility of a U.S.-EU trade war.

"We believe there will only be losers," he told reporters in "We have to find solutions, we have to make the assessment and we will have thereafter to take the necessary steps, to find a way out and to fix the issue."

The Commission said it expected to be in contact with over the metals tariffs this week, but that no formal talks had been scheduled. It was still hoping for clearer indications about the exemption process.

It also said Trump was "cherry-picking" particular tariffs to highlight differences, and maintained average tariffs were very similar on each side of the Atlantic -- 3 percent for products into and 2.4 percent into the

The U.S. tariff for cars, at 2.5 percent, was lower than the EU rate of 10 percent, but its rate of up to 25 percent on trucks was higher. The Commission also pointed to U.S. import duties of up to 48 percent on shoes, 12 percent on textiles and 164 percent on peanuts.

"Cherry-picking particular tariffs in one category, like looking just at on both sides, misses the whole picture, while not taking into account lower levels on other products does not give an accurate picture of tariffs in general," a Commission said.

"The EU market is one of the most open in the world and if anyone starts throwing stones, it's better first to make sure he is not living in a glasshouse."

The EU, he said, preferred dialogue, but was continuing its preparations for a "firm and proportionate" response.

Commission First Vice said at a conference in that did not understand the logic of the proposed U.S. tariffs on the basis of national security and was preparing retaliatory measures if necessary.

"How is European a threat to the U.S.?" he said. "We have a different relationship on matters of national security than the U.S. has with "

The EU has been talking with partners about a legal challenge at the to Trump's plan and is considering safeguards to prevent steel and aluminium, diverted from the United States, flooding into

It has also lined up 2.8 billion euros of U.S. products, from maize to motorbikes, on which to impose tariffs so as to "rebalance" trade flows.

(Additioanl reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels, Edward Taylor in Dillingen; Editing by Catherine Evans)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 12 2018. 21:09 IST