EU commissioner warns on trade: Protectionism threatens global growth

  • International trade issues should be dealt with globally, says the European commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs.
  • "Let's deal with it collectively but no protectionism, no trade war," says the commissioner, Pierre Moscovici.

International trade issues should be dealt with globally, the European commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs said Thursday on CNBC.

That includes steel and aluminum, which President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on last month. The European Union and some other countries were temporarily exempted until May 1.

"We are friends, we are allies. Let's talk seriously. Let's consider the problems when they are raised. Let's deal with it collectively but no protectionism, no trade war," the commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, told CNBC's Sara Eisen from the World Bank's and IMF's Spring Meetings 2018 conference in Washington.

In fact, he called protectionism one of the main risks to global growth today.

"We must not promote any kind of war," he said in the interview on "Power Lunch." "We're in a bright period. Let's stay there."

Tensions over trade have grown recently with those steel and aluminum tariffs.

There also has been an escalation of tit-for-tat responses between the U.S. and China after Trump signed an executive memorandum in March that would impose retaliatory tariffs on up to $60 billion in Chinese imports. The move was meant to punish China for alleged trade abuses.

Moscovici said he's hopeful the U.S. and EU will find a solution to the steel and aluminum tariffs before the exemption expires.

"My feeling is that the American administration is conscious that protectionism is not the way forward for the world economy," he said.

"They want to defend their own interests. This can be understood but we need to show that we are open economies, that we are trading properly, that we are cooperating together."