Skip to main content

Official speeches and statements - March 13, 2018

Published on March 13, 2018

1. United States/Steel tariffs - Reply by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly (Paris - March 13, 2018)

Question on increases in customs duties in the US and consequences for Europe

(…) Regarding this announcement of measures – they haven’t yet come into force –, that the United States is systematically withdrawing from all the multilateral forums, be it the Vienna agreement on Iran, the Paris agreement on the climate or UNESCO. In short, we’re witnessing these withdrawals one after the other. What’s new is the customs initiative and its consequences for the World Trade Organization.

I’d like to tell you that, when it comes to this situation, the European Union – as I said a moment ago – must be both strong and united. Firstly because the European Union is the second-biggest exporter of steel products to the United States. And the indiscriminate unilateral measures that have been announced would have an unacceptable negative impact once again on the European steel industry, particularly the French steel industry.

So we’ve got to do two things at the same time. First, continue close talks at European Union level with our American partner to show it that there’s no justification in targeting us and that we can propose joint action to fight together, in the WTO framework, against unfair trade practices.

But you’re right, the European Union mustn’t be naive; if the United States of America were to adopt measures against our industries, we should take steps to safeguard our industrial interests and rebalance our trade. And we ourselves could also refer the matter to the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body to challenge the validity of the measures./.


2. United States/Steel/aluminium tariffs - Reply by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly (Paris - March 13, 2018)

Question on increases in customs duties in the US and consequences for Europe

The international trade system is going through a critical period, as you’ve just recalled, after President Trump’s announced an increase in customs duties on steel and aluminium imports, potentially specifying a possible exemption, initially for Canada and Mexico.

I’d like to tell you very clearly that France very deeply regrets these measures, which are unilateral measures. First of all they’ll have a negative impact on our businesses, be it directly through the increase in duties or indirectly through the downward hit to the global price of steel and aluminium, and the most surprising thing, moreover, is the national security argument that was put forward by the American authorities, which seems to us neither well-founded nor credible.

The measure is especially regrettable because it could hit countries that comply with the rules of international trade and are not responsible for over-production in the steel and aluminium sector. The French President spoke specifically to President Trump about this point and conveyed his incomprehension and deep concern to him.

So today there are two matters of urgency:

The first is to explain to the United States that the best way of dealing with imbalances is precisely to do so by using not protectionism but dialogue within the World Trade Organization or in the G20 framework.

The second is to ensure, in the face of the American measures, that the European Union’s position and action are determined, strong and above all united, and we’re focusing on this./.

      top of the page