Theresa May has told Donald Trump she has “deep concern” about his plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports to the United States.
In a phone call with the US President on Sunday afternoon, the prime minister reacted to a series of tweets sent by Trump attacking “very stupid” trade deals.
Trump has said he plans to slap a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% on aluminium next week. “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” he said in one tweet.
He has also threatened to threatened to “apply a tax” on cars imported to the US from the EU.
A Downing Street spokesman said. “The prime minister raised our deep concern at the president’s forthcoming announcement on steel and aluminium tariffs, noting that multilateral action was the only way to resolve the problem of global overcapacity in all parties’ interests.”
The EU is reportedly prepared to retaliate by imposing 25% tariffs on around $3.5bn of imports from the US.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said Brussels will target Harley-Davidson motorbikes, bourbon and Levi’s jeans.
Earlier today, Cabinet Office minister David Lidington said Trump was “not taking an advisable course in threatening trade”.
He told the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme “trade wars don’t do anybody any good”.
Asked what the EU’s response to any trade war should be, Lidington suggested he hoped Trump would be blocked from imposing any tariffs.
“We’ll have to see what happens. I mean there was a lot of concern recently about something comparable as regards aviation and the aircraft that were being produced in part by Bombardier, at Belfast in Northern Ireland and the American authorities at the end of the day struck that down, they said, no that is not the way that we should be going,” he said.
In her phone call with Trump, No.10 said May also discussed “the appalling humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta”.
“They agreed it was a humanitarian catastrophe, and that the overwhelming responsibility for the heart-breaking human suffering lay with the Syrian regime and Russia, as the regime’s main backer,” Downing Street added.
“They agreed that Russia and others with influence over the Syrian regime must act now to cease their campaign of violence and to protect civilians.”