EU says it will impose trade 'countermeasures' against US goods in retaliation to Donald Trump’s new tariffs

The US is slapping steep 'America First' tariffs on imported steel and aluminium

Jon Stone
Brussels
Thursday 01 March 2018 20:58
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Donald Trump unveils new tariffs on steel and aluminium imports to US

The European Union has said it will impose trade “countermeasures” against American goods in retaliation to Donald Trump’s new tariffs on imported steel and aluminium.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said retaliatory policies would be announced “in the next few days” in order to “rebalance” the trade situation between European and the US following the move by Mr Trump.

The US president said on Thursday he would introduce a 25 per cent import tariff on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium, claiming that the US had been suffering from “unfair trade”.

“We strongly regret this step, which appears to represent a blatant intervention to protect US domestic industry and not to be based on any national security justification. Protectionism cannot be the answer to our common problem in the steel sector,” Mr Juncker said on Thusday evening.

“Instead of providing a solution, this move can only aggravate matters. The EU has been a close security ally of the US for decades.

“We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk. I had the occasion to say that the EU would react adequately and that's what we will do.

“The EU will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests. The Commission will bring forward in the next few days a proposal for WTO-compatible countermeasures against the US to rebalance the situation."

Europe’s Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said the measures would “have a negative impact on transatlantic relations” and “will raise costs and reduce choice for US consumers of steel and aluminium, including industries that import these commodities”.

She said the EU would raise a dispute at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva over the tariffs “at the earliest opportunity”.

In what appears to be a veiled reference to Chinese steel production, the Commissioner added that “the root cause of problems in these two sectors is global overcapacity caused by non-market based production”.

During his presidential campaign Mr Trump claimed foreign countries were “dumping vast amounts of steel all over the United States, which essentially is killing our steelworkers and steel companies”.

He also said in January of this year that he had “a lot of problems” with European Union trade policy.

Last month Mr Trump also slapped “America First” tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels, moves that most heavily affected China and South Korea.

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