The head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has warned a trade war sparked by US President Donald Trump would plunge the world into « deep recession ».
Roberto Azevedo used remarks in Geneva to appeal for calm, saying member states must stop « the fall of the first dominoes » – hours after the European Union said it was preparing a « decisive » response to plans that, Mr Trump hopes, will bolster US competitiveness.
He prompted fury among major US trading partners worldwide last week when he announced proposals for 25% tariffs on steel products and 10% on aluminium.
His administration has since made it clear the tariffs – due to be announced formally this week – would apply to imports from any country, including Britain.
While Theresa May has spoken to the President to outline her « deep concerns » and urged multilateral action to resolve trade issues, Downing Street has made it clear the UK’s response to any tariffs would fall within EU action while the country remains in the bloc.
European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the issue would be discussed by commissioners on Wednesday, insisting its reaction would be « swift, firm and proportionate ».
He added: « When someone takes unilateral and unfair action that puts thousands of European jobs at risk we have to act.