EU's Tusk hits back at Trump saying trade wars 'bad and easy to lose'


Luxembourg (AFP)

The EU's top official hit back Wednesday at Donald Trump, saying "trade wars are bad and easy to lose" as the bloc prepared to retaliate against the US president's planned steel and aluminium tariffs.

European Council President Donald Tusk also proposed that European Union leaders hold an emergency debate on the trade dispute at a summit in Brussels on March 22-23.

"President Trump has recently said and I quote, 'trade wars are good and easy to win,'" Tusk told a press conference in Luxembourg, flanked by Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.

"But the truth is quite the opposite: Trade wars are bad and easy to lose," the former Polish premier said.

"For this reason I strongly believe that now is the time for politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to act responsibly."

Tusk warned Trump's plans could lead to "a serious trade dispute" between Washington and the rest of the world involving the EU.

Tusk proposed that an EU leaders summit later this month in Brussels hold "an extraordinary trade debate" over the possible "repercussions for our citizens and our businesses not to mention the global economy."

He said EU leaders should aim "to keep world trade alive and if necessary to protect Europeans against trade turbulences."

Tusk added such measures include proportionate responses in line with World Trade Organization rules.

The European Commission, the 28-nation EU executive, warned Wednesday it would hit flagship US products including peanut butter, orange juice and bourbon whiskey with counter measures if Trump goes ahead with the metal tariffs.

The EU is holding fire on its reprisals as Trump has yet to sign into effect his plan to set tariffs for what he calls unfair competition for US industry.