The EU has condemned US plans for tough tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, saying they jeopardise European jobs.
EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom set out plans to retaliate against the proposed US tariffs. These include higher import duties on bourbon, peanut butter, cranberries, orange juice, steel, and industrial products, she said. On Tuesday, Donald Trump’s top economic advisor Gary Cohn, who opposes tariffs, resigned. That was after Mr Trump said EU trade rules make it “impossible” for US firms to do business with the bloc. Ms Malmstrom said the US justification for the proposed 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% tariff on aluminium was that US national security is threatened. She said:
We have serious doubt about that justification. We cannot see how the European Union, friends, and allies in Nato, can be a threat to national security in the US. We find that assumption deeply unjust.
What action is the EU considering?
Ms Malmstrom said the EU will launch proceedings at the World Trade Organisation with other members of the organisation. It would take measures to try to deal with am expected surge of steel and aluminium imports into the EU. “From what understand, the motivation of the US is an economic safeguard measure in disguise, not a national security measure,” she said. The EU would take measures that match the economic loss suffered by the EU.
We are discussing different US products on which different import tariffs can be imposed.
She added that the root cause of the problem with steel and aluminium is “global overcapacity” propped up by “massive state subsidies… under non-market conditions.”