The negative effect of US restrictions on steel and aluminium in the EU

US restrictions on steel and aluminium will affect EU negatively, says commission
Jean Claude Juncker ©David Plas photographer

The European Commission expressed its views on the US’ plans to impose additional duties of 25% and 10% respectively on imports of steel and aluminium from the EU, calling it “a bad day for world trade.”

This announcement on steel and aluminium will have a knock-on effect on EU trading, with these new US measures affecting EU exports worth €6.4bn in 2017.

Over the last few months, the EU has been preparing and now stands ready to react to the US trade restrictions on steel and aluminium.

“I am concerned about this decision”, says Jean-Claude Juncker

Commenting on the announcement, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said: “I am concerned by this decision. The EU believes these unilateral US tariffs are unjustified and at odds with World Trade Organisation [WTO] rules. This is protectionism, pure and simple. Over the past months we have continuously engaged with the US at all possible levels to jointly address the problem of overcapacity in the steel sector.

“Overcapacity remains at the heart of the problem and the EU is not the source of, but on the contrary, equally hurt by it. That is why we are determined to work towards structural solutions together with our partners. We have also consistently indicated our openness to discuss ways to improve bilateral trade relations with the US, but have made it clear that the EU will not negotiate under threat.

“By targeting those who are not responsible for overcapacities, the US is playing into the hands of those who are responsible for the problem. The US now leaves us with no choice but to proceed with a WTO dispute settlement case and with the imposition of additional duties on a number of imports from the US. We will defend the union’s interests in full compliance with international trade law.”

“A bad day for world trade”, adds Malmström

Commissioner for Trade 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 [on] 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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