Brussels seeks dialogue on Trump tariffs, prepares to defend EU in WTO court

EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

European Commissioner in charge of Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen, speaks at a news conference on the Capital Markets Union in Brussels, Belgium, 09 Mach 2018.

Brussels seeks dialogue on Trump tariffs, prepares to defend EU in WTO court


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The European Commission stands ready to take Washington to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) court if necessary, but will first seek talks with the US.

Hours after Trump signed into law the 25% tariffs on steel and 10% on aluminium, the EU said on March 9 that it will seek talks with the American to get as much clarity as possible.”It is not crystal clear how a potential exclusion process will function,” European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen told reporters in Brussels, saying he had discussed the issue with the French minister and Japan.

“We have not heard any further information about the criteria, we need a dialogue with the United States,” added Katainen, suggesting that “it is not clear how the potential exclusions will function”. Katainen took things a step further, saying that “as EU companies are not the source of security threats, we shall take an exclusion on those tariffs”.

Katainen told journalists that the European Commissioner for Trade is to meet US representative Robert Lighthizer and Japan’s minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry  Hiroshige Sēko on March 9 to discuss capacity problems that the Berlaymont has identified as the biggest problem on steel trade.

“We will also continue our preparatory work on potential rebalancing measures, hoping that we are not forced to use them,” added Katainen, suggesting that the bloc will try to solve the problem before it arises.

As for the UK attempts to solve the issue on a unilateral manner, Katainen said: “we cannot accept that the EU is divided into different categories” adding that the EU has “very strict trade rules within the Union” and that there are no subsidies. “It is important to avoid an uneven playing field within companies from the member states and the member states themselves”.

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