Belgian PM on US steel tariffs “A dark day for free trade”

The Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel (Francophone liberal) has described the US President Donald Trump’s decision to impose import tariffs on European steel and aluminium as “a dark day for free trade”. Mr Michel believes that Europe should take retaliatory action. However, he the Belgian PM wishes to avoid a trade war between the European Union and the United States.    

Clearly displeased with Washington decision, Mr Michel told journalists that "It is unacceptable that the United States once again has taken a unilateral decision”.

"I think that the situation is regrettable. Throughout history the US has been an important partner at all levels and were are one on many points. However, I have established that over the past few months more and more unilateral decisions have been taken by the United States that potentially could have a deeply negative effect on the European Union and Belgium.  

Mr Michel believes that the American import tariffs will have an impact on the Belgian economy and on the economy of the European Union at large.

"We will have to look with the branches of industry what exactly the consequences will be. But it is certainly the case that less free trade will not have a positive effect on future growth”.

"Europe must be respected"

The Belgian Prime Minister wants a clear reaction from the EU. "We are in contact with the European Commission about taking retaliatory measures to show that Europe should be respected. It is unacceptable that we should negotiate with the United States under duress.  

Consequently, Mr Michel wants retaliatory measures to be taken swiftly.  

"To show that we don’t intend to just accept everything”. Mr Michel also wants initiatives to be taken within the World Trade Organisation.  

Nevertheless, the Belgian Prime Minister wishes to avoid a trade war. “An escalation would be stupid”, he told journalists.

Charles Michel advocates the EU getting around the table with the US. However, this hasn’t worked in the past.

"It is important that the European Union and the United States reach an agreement”.