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Norway waits out Trump’s trade war

Norway waits out Trump’s trade war

OSLO: Norway hasn’t prepared any counter-measures,” to any sudden, punitive customs fees that may be imposed on goods imported from Norway, Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide told news bureau NTB on Friday. Søreide isn’t ready to slap reciprocal fees on imports from the US that would add to their price: “I think there has to be a very high threshold for taxing Norwegian consumers and businesses to hinder imports (from the US).”

That’s a different strategy than the one being taken by the EU. Its officials have responded to Trump’s threatened 25 percent import duty on steel and 10 percent on aluminum by threatening high reciprocal fees on American products, from Harley Davidson motorcycles to cigarettes and Levi’s jeans. The goal is to make sure that the US is hit just as hard as the EU would be if Trump moves forward with his controversial plans.

Søreide is as worried as her foreign minister colleagues are all over the world. “It’s serious and worrisome that the US has warned of trade barriers for aluminum and steel,” she stated right after Trump announced his plans. Using national security as an “excuse for protectionism,” Søreide added, “is not constructive.”

She also claimed that Trump’s threatened fees on steel and aluminum raise doubts about the multilateral, regulation-based trade system “that has served us well for more than 70 years, and increases the risk that other countries will also close their markets.”

Norway’s own exports of steel and aluminum, the latter being the major product of the large state-controlled industrial firm Norsk Hydro, are mostly sent to Europe. Less than 1 percent of Norwegian exports of products convered by Trump’s threatened fees go to the US.