Thursday, March 08, 2018

EU outlines plan to counter US steel, aluminium tariffs

The European commissioners
The European commissioners on Wednesday gave political endorsement to a proposal aiming to counter the possible US steel and aluminium tariffs, saying the EU stands ready to react "proportionately and fully" in line with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules once the US measures affect EU's interest.

The proposal was presented by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom, according to a statement.

"The motivation behind the US measures appears to be an economic safeguard measure in disguise - not a national security measure," Malmstrom said at a press conference.

"That means that the EU is entitled to make use of the WTO Safeguards Agreement to rebalance benefits that we have given to the US in the past. This would be done by carrying out measures that match the economic loss suffered by us because of the US move," she added.

An earlier report by the Politico Europe said the EU is ready to roll out countermeasures against US exports worth 2.8 billion euros (3.48 billion US dollars), including Levi's jeans, Harley-Davidson motorbikes and bourbon whiskeys.

Malmstrom confirmed that the EU has prepared a list of products including a number of steel products, agricultural products and consumer goods, for imposing reciprocal tariffs if needed.

"Certain types of bourbon are indeed on the list as are other items such as peanut butter, cranberries, orange juice etc," she said.

But the commissioner still hoped that "as a US security partner, the EU would be excluded" from the US tariffs target.

"We also hope to convince the US administration that this is not the right move. Protectionism cannot be the answer, it never is," she added.

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