March 5, 2018 / 8:19 PM / a year ago

Planned U.S. steel tariffs not 'helpful' - senior UK official

FILE PHOTO - A man walks past aluminum coil at an aluminum factory in Pindamonhangaba, Brazil, June 19, 2015. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on steel is not “helpful” and it is counterproductive to aggravate tensions between U.S. and European allies given more aggressive Chinese and Russian behaviour, a senior British official said on Monday.

Trump said last week he would impose broad tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium to protect U.S. national security under a Cold War-era trade law, a move that some warn could raise consumer prices and ignite a trade war.

“At a time when everything is so uncertain and you have a more aggressive Russia and a more assertive China, this is precisely the wrong moment for there to be tensions between transatlantic partners,” the British official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

The official discussed steel with the State Department and the White House national security council in talks that also touched on the violence in Syria, the Iran nuclear deal and bilateral U.S.-British ties.

“My instructions were very firm: every single American I came anywhere near I was to raise steel,” the official said.

“We are not supporters of trade wars. We believe in free trade,” the official added. “We don’t think tariffs in respect of steel are at all helpful.”

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Eric Walsh; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler

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