The EU’s planned counter-tariffs on US goods

In response to the recently imposed US tariffs on European steel and aluminium exports, the EU has now announced its planned countermeasure tariffs on US trade. The trade chief for the union has made accusations that the US is trying to “extort trade concessions” from Europe by threatening tariffs. He went on to warn Donald Trump: “This is not the way we do business.”

In addition to this, the EU is planning to take the US to the WTO’s trade court, with the hope that the new trade laws will be deemed illegal. The new tariffs have been confirmed by America’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, and include a tariff of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium. These will come into effect today. He has been involved in last minute negotiations with EU officials. “We will have to see what’s their reaction,” he said. “We continue to be quite willing and indeed eager to have discussions with all those parties.”

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has expressed his concerns over the move. “This is protectionism, pure and simple,” he said. He added that the EU has no choice but to impose “rebalancing” tariffs against goods from the US. “By targeting those who are not responsible for overcapacities, the US is playing into the hands of those who are responsible for the problem,” he said, in an apparent veiled reference to China.

EU trade commission Cecilia Malmström added: “Today is a bad day for world trade. We did everything to avoid this outcome. Over the last couple of months I have spoken at numerous occasions with the US Secretary of Commerce. I have argued for the EU and the US to engage in a positive transatlantic trade agenda, and for the EU to be fully, permanently and unconditionally exempted from these tariffs.”

“This is also what EU leaders have asked for. Throughout these talks, the US has sought to use the threat of trade restrictions as leverage to obtain concessions from the EU. This is not the way we do business, and certainly not between longstanding partners, friends and allies. Now that we have clarity, the EU’s response will be proportionate and in accordance with WTO rules.”

“We will now trigger a dispute settlement case at the WTO, since these US measures clearly go against agreed international rules. We will also impose rebalancing measures and take any necessary steps to protect the EU market from trade diversion caused by these US restrictions.”

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