EU warns US of tit-for-tat tariffs

EU warns US of tit-for-tat tariffs
The motivation of the US is an economic safeguard measure in disguise, not a national security measure, said Cecilia Malmstroem.

brussels - It is mulling counter-measures against iconic US products like Harley Davidson motorcycles and Levi's jeans



The European Union says it is ready to retaliate against the US over President Donald Trump's proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, with counter-measures against iconic US products like Harley Davidson motorcycles, Levi's jeans and bourbon.

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said on Wednesday that the EU, the world's biggest trading bloc, rejects Trump's reasoning that the tariffs are backed by the international legal right to protect national security.

Should tariffs be introduced, the EU and other partners would take the case to the World Trade Organisation, she said. The EU is circulating among member states a list of US goods to target so that it can respond as quickly as possible.

"We cannot see how the European Union, friends and allies in Nato, can be a threat to international security in the US," Malmstroem told reporters. "From what we understand, the motivation of the US is an economic safeguard measure in disguise, not a national security measure."

Trump has long railed against what he deems unfair trade practices by China and others, and last week declared that his government would levy penalties of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminum imports. The tariffs, he said, would remain for "a long period of time," but it was not clear if certain trading partners would be exempt.

Malmstroem said Trump's motives do not appear compatible with WTO rules and that this means the EU can activate safeguards to protect its own markets.

She confirmed that the EU's counter-measures would include tariffs on US steel and agricultural products, as well as other products like bourbon, peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice.

"This is basically a stupid process, the fact that we have to do this. But we have to do it," EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker had said last week. "We will now impose tariffs on motorcycles, Harley Davidson, on blue jeans, Levi's, on bourbon. We can also do stupid."

The list of US goods to target is being circulated among EU member states for approval. - AP


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