June 4, 2018 / 3:25 PM / 14 days ago

U.S. tariffs 'unjustified', Britain's May tells Trump on call

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May told President Donald Trump on Monday that U.S. tariffs imposed on European Union steel and aluminum imports were “unjustified and deeply disappointing” during a phone call.

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

The leaders spoke for the first time since the announcement in a 30-minute call and agreed to discuss the issue further at the G7 summit in Canada later this week.

Trump has infuriated European Union members, Canada and Mexico by imposing tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, ending months of uncertainty about potential exemptions and suggesting a hardening of the U.S. approach to trade negotiations.

“The prime minister raised the U.S. decision to apply tariffs to EU steel and aluminum imports, which she said was unjustified and deeply disappointing,” a spokesman for the prime minister told reporters.

“She said the U.S. and UK and EU are close national security allies and we recognize the importance of the values of open and fair trade across the world. The prime minister also underlined the need to safeguard jobs.”

The EU threatened tariffs on Harley Davidson motorcycles and bourbon, measures aimed at the political bases of U.S. Republican legislators.

Britain’s trade minister Liam Fox warned parliament on Monday that growing protectionism could “ramp up into a global trading disaster” and said Britain and the European Union’s response must be measured and proportionate.

“It is right to seek to defend our domestic industries from both the direct and indirect impacts of these U.S. tariffs. The response must be measured, and proportionate,” Fox told parliament.

During the call, May also announced her support for Trump’s plan to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore next week.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Andrew MacAskill; Editing by William James and Catherine Evans

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