The European Commission has warned that it will react “swiftly and appropriately” to any threat of a trade war by the US, after Donald Trump appeared to threaten a trade war against the continent.
Speaking after slapping new ‘America First’ tariffs on some imported goods, the US president said he had “a lot of problems” with the European Union’s trade policy and hinted he might take similar action against the bloc.
But asked about Mr Trump’s comments on Monday, a European Commission spokesperson hit back, warning that “restrictive trade measures from the United States” would face a robust response from Europe.
“For us, trade policy is not a zero-sum game, it is not about winners and losers,” the spokesperson told reporters in Brussels.
“We here in the European Union believe that trade can and should be win-win.
“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.”
The US president said he believed the EU’s trade policy would “turn out to be very much to their detriment”.
On Tuesday he slapped high import tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels, claiming, he would “always defend American workers”. US officials said there would be more tariffs to come.
“I’ve had a lot of problems with European Union, and it may morph into something very big from that standpoint, from a trade standpoint,” Mr Trump said in an interview with ITV broadcast on Sunday evening.
“We cannot get our product in. It’s very, very tough. And yet they send their product to us – no taxes, very little taxes. It’s very unfair.
“They’re not the only one, by the way. I could name many countries and places that do. But the European Union has been very, very unfair to the United States. And I think it will turn out to be very much to their detriment.”