U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron (R) hold hands during a state arrival ceremony at the South Lawn of the White House April 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump is hosting Macron for a two-day official visit that includes dinner at George Washington's Mount Vernon, a tree planting on the White House South Lawn, an Oval Office meeting, a joint news conference and a state dinner.
Alex Wong—Getty Images
By Associated Press
May 31, 2018

(WASHINGTON) — French President Emmanuel Macron is calling the U.S. decision to levy tariffs on the European Union “illegal” and a “mistake.”

Macron said that he deplores the U.S. action and that he plans to speak with U.S. President Donald Trump later Thursday telling him just that.

The French president said the tariff move does not in line with international trade law that the United States, France and Europe have subscribed to. He stressed that there would be a European response.

Macron, who was the first foreign leader invited by Trump to a state visit, said the U.S. president’s decision is a mistake because it creates economic and commercial nationalism.

He ominously recalled the pre-World War II period saying, “Economic nationalism leads to war. This is exactly what happened in the 1930s.”

The head of the World Trade Organization is expressing “very real concern” about rising trade tensions and the risk of escalation.

The comments from Director-General Roberto Azevedo come in the wake of U.S. trade penalties on imported steel and aluminum.

But he says the global trading system “was built to resolve these problems in a way that prevents further escalation.”

The European Union says it plans to bring its case against new U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum to the World Trade Organization on Friday.

If that happens, the 28-nation EU would join China and India in triggering the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism over the American trade penalties.

Turning to the WTO would give the EU a second response to the tariffs. It’s already prepared $1.6 billion in retaliation against U.S. goods including steel, orange juice, motorcycles and bourbon whiskey.

WTO proceedings could open the door to further penalties and increase pressure on Washington, though the process traditionally takes many months — and in some cases, years.

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