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European Union seeks clarity on whether it will be hit by United States tariffs

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The dispute has fuelled concerns that soybeans, the United States' most valuable export to China, might be caught up in the row after Beijing launched an inquiry into imports of U.S. sorghum, a grain used in animal feed and liquor.

American customers are stockpiling Canadian steel ahead of new import tariffs due to be imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump later this month, according to industry sources familiar with the matter.

Trump's announcement of duties of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminium has stung the European Union and triggered warnings of an all-out worldwide trade war.

The meeting had been previously planned but took on greater importance because of Trump's announcement of a 25-percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

"Europe is certainly not a threat to American internal security so we expect to be excluded", European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in Brussels.

The EU's top trade official said the USA failed on Saturday to provide full clarity on how Europe and Japan could be spared from Washington's controversial steel and aluminium tariffs, but said talks would continue next week.

"He only explained the schedule and the procedures", he said.

Meanwhile, the European Union said it hoped, like Canada and Mexico, to be exempted from USA tariffs, or that it could iron out difference with the U.S.at the World Trade Organization. "We will look at the impact on Japanese businesses and make a final decision".

Source Peterson Institute for International Economics
Source Peterson Institute for International Economics

Mexico, the third biggest trading partner with the USA, was also exempted from Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs.

The actual formal documents specifically state that Canada and Mexico are a special case, given the continent's shared commitment to mutual security, an integrated defence industry and the shared fight against dumped steel and that the best way to address US concerns - "at least at this time" - is by continuing discussions.

Third, the manner in which Mr Trump unveiled his tariffs underscored his unpredictability. Tariffs would "seriously impact the normal order of worldwide trade", the Commerce Ministry said. "It could disrupt the steel and aluminium markets of the world and have a negative impact", Mr Seko told reporters after his meeting with US Trade Representative Lighthizer in which he sought an exemption for Japanese producers.

It has already started monitoring incoming metal flows to see whether a surge occurs.

It is critical to the 43 million Americans whose jobs are supported by the USA food and agricultural industries.

The EU is also maintaining a threat of counter-measures that would target US imports ranging from maize to motorcycles, and may publish its list next week to allow industry and other interested parties to give their input.

NPR's Philip Reeve tells Morning Edition that Brazil is gravely concerned about the US tariffs, saying they will hurt trade relations and that the South American country has not ruled out sourcing its coal from elsewhere.

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