US President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium will change the playing field for the world’s steel market if they are introduced. For Swedish companies SSAB and Sandvik there is now a nervous wait. Although SSAB and Sandvik’s shares fell on Friday, they could benefit from the proposal. Their products, which are highly specialised, have avoided such tariffs in the past and the two companies have built up a strong local presence in the US.
Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson is critical of Trump’s announcement. According to her, it is important to discuss any counter-measures and make “mature” and “well-considered” decisions. “We do not want this situation to escalate, good trade relations with the US are in Europe’s, and not least, Sweden’s interests,” she said.
Next week Prime Minister Stefan Löfven is to visit the White House with a Swedish business delegation, and there will be an opportunity to discussion trade relations directly with the president. Commenting on the looming trade war, Commissioner Cecilia Malmström says, the European Commission has informed the US on several occasions that the Americans cannot block the EU for security reasons – “most of our countries are NATO partners”.
The trade war could end up being decided by the World Trade Organization, if the EU decides to take the US to the WTO court, although that could drag on as the US is blocking the appointment of judges to hear international disputes at present. “It means that if we do not resolve it this year… the conflict resolution mechanism falls apart,” points out Cecilia Malmström.
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