Finland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen said that the positive aspect of President Donald Trump’s decision to postpone the steel and aluminium tariffs for the EU is that the tariffs did not take effect yet. President Trump postponed the tariffs until the beginning of June.
Minister Virolainen pointed out that the decision means that the uncertainty continues, which is bad news for all businesses. Furthermore, the decision does not remove the real problem, which is oversupply.
According to Minister Virolainen, the postponement has small direct impact on Finland. ”It still distorts the market, which is a major problem to the competitiveness of the European Union’s steel companies. The biggest concern for Finland and the EU is how the various counter measures affect the growth of world trade and export.
Minister Virolainen sees that the import quotas that President Trump wants to negotiate on are not a solution to the aluminium and steel import issue. She wrote on Twitter that furthermore limiting import is against the rules of the World Trade Organisation WTO.
The European Union’s trade ministers meet on 22 May, and by then there must be some solution in sight to the dispute, Ms Virolainen added. However, there is a possibility that the decisions will again be made in the last minute.
Minister Virolainen said that the negotiations continue and Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström continues to be in contact with the United States. Once again, she emphasised that the EU’s import is not a threat to the US national security.
The European Union criticised the US’s decision as it prolongs the uncertainty in world markets. According to the European Commission, the EU should be excluded from the tariffs, because the tariffs cannot be justified by national security; there is no oversupply of aluminium and steel in the EU.
Kimmo Järvinen, EU director at Technology Industries of Finland, believes that the negotiations with the US result in a tariff-free quota for steel and aluminium from the EU.
Saila Turtiainen, EU and trade policy expert at the Confederation of Finnish Industries, EK, was concerned that the United States seems to be ignorant of the WTO rules. They do not care about the rules but about their own interests. “At the moment we are paving the way towards the new reality of international trade, which I find concerning,” Ms Turtiainen added.