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EU warns will ‘react swiftly’ to US trade war threat

The European Union has warned the US that it will react “swiftly and appropriately” if Washington wages a trade war on the 28-member bloc.

“We also believe that while trade has to be open and fair it has also to be rules-based. The European Union stands ready to react swiftly and appropriately in case our exports are affected by any restrictive trade measures from the United States,” European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said on Monday.

The EU warning came a day after US President Donald Trump said in an interview with Britain’s ITV channel that he was annoyed with the EU trade policy and accused Brussels of treating Washington “very unfairly” when it came to trade.

Trump said that his many problems with Brussels could “morph into something very big from a trade standpoint.”

The US president also criticized the bloc for paying very little taxes for the products it exported to his country and demanding high taxes and enforcing draconian regulations on American products.

In reaction to Trump’s interview, Schinas said, “For us, trade policy is not a zero-sum game, it is not about winners and losers. We here in the European Union believe that trade can and should be win-win.”

Last week, the US unilaterally imposed 20-percent tariffs on imported washing machines and 30-percent tariffs on incoming solar cells and modules in a bid to help US manufacturers, particularly against competition from China and South Korea.

China and South Korea condemned the US measure, with Seoul planning to complain to the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the increased tariffs.

Trump has on several occasions blamed unfair trade deals and abusive practices for the massive trade deficit and the loss of high-paying factory jobs in his country.