Lighthizer blasts EU, key trading partners for retaliatory tariffs

Lighthizer blasts EU, key trading partners for retaliatory tariffs
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U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerOn The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports Chinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead MORE on Tuesday blasted plans by key U.S. allies to levy retaliatory tariffs against the United States.

Lighthizer defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE's plans to hit major allies and World Trade Organization (WTO) members such as Canada, Mexico and the European Union with steel and aluminum tariffs to protect U.S. national security.

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He directed much of his ire at the EU and China, saying that billions in retaliatory tariffs "underscore the complete hypocrisy that governs so much of the global trading system."

"For months, the EU, China, and others have criticized the trade policy of the United States, while claiming to champion the WTO," Lighthizer said he in a statement.

"But their recent tariffs prove that they simply ignore WTO rules whenever doing so is convenient."

Lighthizer says the EU "concocted a groundless legal theory" to justify immediate retaliation against Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs.

Faced with the retaliatory tariffs, Lighthizer said the United States will take all necessary actions "to protect its interests.”

Lighthzier called the U.S. actions on tariffs "wholly legitimate and fully justified" under U.S. law and WTO rules.

“While the United States has acted responsibly here, the European Union and its followers have not," he said.

"Rather than work with the United States, they have retaliated with tariffs designed to punish U.S. companies and workers," he said.

The EU on Friday slapped tariff of about $3.2 billion of U.S. products, ranging from Harley-Davidson motorcycles, jeans, bourbon and agricultural products, in response to the steel and aluminum tariffs. 

Canada plans to implement tariffs on $12.4 billion in tariffs on U.S. products starting July 1. 

China has promised tariffs on nearly $50 billion of U.S. products in response to Trump's plan to hit Beijing with duties of $50 billion on its exports over alleged intellectual property and other technology theft. 

Mexico also has imposed tariffs on about $3 billions in U.S. exports. 

He said Trump made the tariff moves to protect the U.S. industries and national security from a global glut of steel and aluminum and the duties were implemented "after long and careful analysis, and after all trading partners had the chance to address our concerns."

Instead, he said, the EU and other WTO members such as China are disregarding WTO rules, and applying the tariffs on U.S. exports in a response that applies to safeguard measures.

“When the EU and others falsely assert the U.S. steel and aluminum duties are safeguard measures, and impose retaliatory duties under this pretense, they do great damage to the multilateral trading system," Lighthizer said.

In March, Trump imposed tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum coming into the United States.

The president temporarily gave Canada, Mexico and the EU an exemption from the metals tariffs. But unsatisfied with the state of negotiations that may have provided a permanent waiver from the tariffs.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump strongly defended his tariffs plan, saying that his moves are bringing other countries to the negotiating table.

“Without tariffs, you would never do that,” he said.