European Union lists American exports it could target in response Trump's proposed tariffs

Elias Hubbard
March 17, 2018

The European Union on Friday published a list of US products it plans to introduce duties on if the 28-nation bloc is not exempted from President Donald Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs.

Still with the USA tariffs slated to take effect on March 23, hopes for a deal are fading.

Though Trump has cited national security concerns in limiting shipments of foreign-made metals, the European Union says it will respond as if the USA had implemented traditional import limitations known as "safeguard measures". It will put thousands of European jobs in jeopardy.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom will hold talks next week with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

The EU believes it too should be exempted and rejects Trump's assertion that the tariffs are needed for national security and are simply protectionist measures.

"We cannot see how the European Union, friends and allies in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, can be a threat to worldwide security in the U.S.", Malmström said.

Though China produces and exports the majority of the world's steel, 10 percent of the steel imported by the United States - the world's largest steel importer - is produced by European Union member nations.

In the Europeans' view, that would entitle it to levy import taxes on roughly $3.4 billion worth of American products, a figure that corresponds to the value of European metals exports to the USA that did not increase in 2017 compared with the previous year. "Trade deflection could have a much, much larger effect on the industry than the loss of exports itself", he said.

US officials have informed their European counterparts that exemption bids will be determined based upon criteria including cooperation with the U.S.in WTO proceedings and in a multilateral forum in Paris aimed at reducing excess global steel production.

"The president's going to continue fighting for the American worker".

Analysts say that European trade officials are targeting Americana in order to drive their message home to the American people - and their politicians.

In all, American exports worth some $3.5 billion could be affected by the tariffs threatened by the Europeans.

The EU's executive Commission, which negotiates trade matters on behalf of member countries, gave European industry stakeholders 10 days to object if they fear that any products targeted for "rebalancing" tariffs would hurt their business.

Trump has ordered Ross to discuss "horrific" European Union trade tariffs and barriers with Brussels and has also threatened to hit European Union cars. A second round of tariffs on a different group of products would be triggered should the World Trade Organization approve Trump's metal tariffs. "That's probably the big concern", Mike Jakeman of the Economist Intelligence Unit said.

The two product sets combined would aim to counter-balance the damage of US measures to the bloc's 6.4 billion euros of aluminum and steel exports to the United States.

Financial markets remain calm. "They absolutely do not have interest in a tit-for-tat trade war with the United States", said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. But if one did break out - between the world's two biggest trading partners - it would, in the words of the International Monetary Fund, be "unwinnable".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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