Finnish leaders comment on US steel tariffs
Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö has commented on the steel tariffs set by President Donald Trump, saying that it seems that the tariffs do not create major threats to Finland. However, a more extensive trade war that would spread as a chain reaction would be very harmful to Finland, a country which depends on exports.
President Niinistö said in an interview with STT that there is always a risk of an escalating situation, but found that changes might be made to the tariffs and final conclusions should not be drawn yet. President Niinistö added that he thinks the tariffs are one way for President Trump to show his voters that he keeps his promises made in the election campaign.
In addition, President Niinistö pointed out that Trump has already implied that there may be exemptions to the tariffs. “How flexible the US is with the tariffs, nobody knows,” President Niinistö said.
President Niinistö found that the tariff decision shows that protectionism is here to stay, one way or the other. If the trade war spreads, it can have an impact on third parties, not only the US and its trade partners.
According to President Niinistö, the European Union must take a common stance in the situation, so that it would not have diverse voices.
Minister for Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen pointed out that Finland has good trade relations with the United States, and particularly measured by added value the US is an important partner for Finland.
Minister Virolainen added that the EU should now stand united in the situation. She found that the EU should now give Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström the full mandate to take care of the negotiations and to avoid a full-scale trade war.
Minister Virolainen also believed that the tariffs could still be cancelled. She mentioned that President Trump’s tariffs would take effect on 23 March, so there would be some time to affect the decision.
Vice President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen said in an interview to STT that the US cannot use the threat of steel tariffs to get better trade conditions from the European Union. President Trump has hinted that the EU could get an exception from steel tariff, if the tax on import cars is decreased. Vice President Katainen finds that car tariffs are part of a wider whole. Mr Trump’s style of trade negotiations with threats is not acceptable, Katainen finds.
According to Mr Katainen, the European Union keeps searching for a solution to the steel tariffs dispute with the United States. Speaking at a discussion event arranged by the European Commission Representation in Finland, Mr Katainen noted that it seems the US administration does not know what it wants.