President Donald Trump has repeatedly singled out China for taking advantage of the U.S. in trade, but his unilateral move to impose steel tariffs will likely hurt close allies in Europe more than Beijing.
While Chinese steel exports to the U.S. are already subject to heavy trade restrictions, the European Union has been largely spared by Washington – until now, it seems.
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom are in Washington this week to convince Trump to provide the 28-nation bloc with a tariff exemption.
The president has already provided Canada and Mexico with exemptions, and he is allowing other countries to make their case as well.
But Trump has made clear that only "real friends" of the U.S. will avoid tariffs.
What's unclear is whether or not Trump considers the EU a "real friend." Although the trade bloc is made up of Washington's closest NATO military allies, the president has criticized nations such as Germany, the EU's largest economy, for not spending enough on defense and for its large trade surplus with the U.S.
The two sides have until Friday, when the steel tariffs go into effect, to reach some sort of agreement.