EU 'Ready To React' To US Tariffs


Europe wants to avoid a trade war with the United States over its plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, but is preparing immediate counter-measures just in case, European Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said.

Malmstrom said that the Commissioners hope that as the European Union is a United States security partner it will be excluded.

Ross Denton, a partner at law firm Baker McKenzie, said the European Union may try to convince the administration to selectively drop tariffs on its most popular steel products.

The EU's top trade official Cecilia Malmstroem and Japanese Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko met for preliminary talks in Brussels, before being joined by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a loyalist to Trump's "America First" mantra.

While carrying a message to Washington to push forward a diplomatic breakthrough over North Korea, South Korea's national security office chief Chung Eui-yong asked USA officials to support Seoul's request for a waiver, a presidential spokesman said.

Katainen said Brussels wanted "clarity" on how the tariffs will be implemented and was ready to enforce retaliatory measures to protect European interests if needed.

"Dialogue is always the prime option for the European Union", Malmstroem said.

"Tariffs are not the right way to address the problem of global overcapacity", the spokesman said.

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"We are an ally, not a threat", Katainen said.

He said other countries could be spared if they can convince the administration that their steel and aluminum exports don't threaten American industry.

The EU is also maintaining a threat of counter-measures that would target United States imports ranging from maize to motorcycles, and may publish its list next week to allow industry and other interested parties to give their input.

This shed some light on the tycoon's specific barbs against Germany - the biggest economy in the European Union - that have finger-pointed Berlin for contributing much less than the U.S. towards the funding of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. "We're going to have sensible relations with our allies".

The EU exported about 5.5 million tons of steel to the USA a year ago.

"The European Union has made a decision to respond clearly to the USA measures and as the federal government we support this position", government spokesman Georg Streiter told a regular news conference.

The dispute has fueled concerns that soybeans, the United States' most valuable export to China, might be caught up in the row after Beijing launched an inquiry probe into imports of U.S. sorghum, a grain used in animal feed and liquor.