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Finnish leaders rip into US President's trade tariffs proposal

Senior Finnish politicians have cautioned that a US plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium could start a trade war and slow down global economic growth.

Jyrki Katainen
Jyrki Katainen Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

European Commission VP Jyrki Katainen said that a proposal by US President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium could start a trade war, according to website Politico.

Katainen, who is also a former Finnish prime minister, cautioned that Europe could wind up fighting a global trade war on two fronts, in Asia and the United States. Katainen offered the comments at a BusinessEurope lobby event in Brussels, Politico reported.

"I easily can see very unfortunate and worrisome developments ahead of us," Katainen said.

Politico reports Katainen said that if Trump "is taking unilateral actions we have to respond, but it's not only a problem between Europe and the United States. Because it has an impact [on] steel production, steel markets elsewhere, too."

Ex-PM Vanhanen: US must stop cherry-picking

The chair of Finland’s Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Matti Vanhanen call for stern action from the EU on the proposed US tariffs on steel and aluminium. Vanhanen took to micro-blogging site Twitter to declare that the planned tariffs could put an end to the current global economic upswing.

“The EU must primarily aim for rapid talks to push back against President Trump’s intention. But at the same time the union must be ready to respond in kind and unmistakably show that cherry-picking to protect one country’s output is not acceptable,” Vanhanen told the Finnish news agency STT.

Vanhanen also said that the EU must intensify trade relations with the rest of the world.

Economy Minister: Tariffs a threat to global economic development

Meanwhile Economic Affairs Minister Mika Lintilä described Trump’s proposed measure as a threat to the development of the global economy. Lintilä pointed out that the Finnish economy is highly dependent on exports global demand.

“The [Finnish] economy is now on a very good growth path. As threats to global economic growth take shape, the first thing to suffer will be people’s confidence that growth will continue,” Lintilä noted.

“If the global economy declines, as an export-dependent country, Finland will be very sensitive to such currents. So growth will have an impact on people,” Lintilä told STT.

According to Lintilä, a new trade war is not yet on the cards although all of the prerequisites for it exist.

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