US Tariffs Exemption to Expire Soon for the EU

The EU is bracing itself for a trade war with the US, after Donald Trump’s administration signalled to Brussels that it would not prolong the exemption granted to European steel and aluminium importers from its punitive tariffs.

Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for trade, said that she expected the US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, to make a recommendation to the White House in the coming days, but that the final decision would be taken by the president.

A temporary exemption EU companies enjoy from a 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminium brought in by Trump is due to come to an end on 1 June.

At a summit in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, last week, EU leaders agreed to offer an increase in the amount of natural gas the US can import to Europe, reciprocal access for industrial products, including cars, and discussions on World Trade Organisation reform, if the White House was to lift the threat of tariffs.

Malmström said: “Is this going to be enough? I am not sure, frankly.

“There have been signals from the US that the exemptions will not be prolonged so either they will be imposed on us 1 June or there will other sorts of limiting measure … We have to prepare for different scenarios.”

Speaking after a meeting of trade ministers in Brussels on Tuesday, Malmström said she was in twice-weekly contact with Ross, and trusted him to be honest with her about his advice to the president.

Should tariffs be imposed on EU firms, the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has threatened to slap tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorbikes, bourbon and bluejeans, among other US products.

Keep reading at The Guardian.