Customs duties on steel and aluminium: Juncker clear that EU will “react firmly”

Customs duties on steel and aluminium: Juncker clear that EU will “react firmly”
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The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, confirmed on Thursday that the European Union “will react both firmly and proportionally to defend (its) interests.” His statement came after Donald Trump’s announcement of high taxes on steel and aluminium imports to the United States.

The head of the European Executive, cited in a press communiqué, says this American decision “is a great regret to us.” He added that the Commission would set out “a proposal with counter-measures against the US, in the coming days. These will be compatible with WTO rules to rebalance the situation.”

On Thursday, the American President, Donald Trump, announced that he will place high customs duties on steel and aluminium imports into United States, at risk of causing a trade war with the US’s main trade partners, China and the EU.

He claimed, “I will promulgate this next week.” The American President mentioned customs duties of 25% for steel and 10% for aluminium, without however specifying which countries the duties will be aimed at.

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Trump later doubled down on the potential trade wars in a tweet saying: “When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”

Mr Juncker says that the American initiative seems to be “a blatant intervention to protect national industry” in the United States, and “does not rest upon a national security justification.”

The President of the Commission warns, “Instead of providing a solution, this decision can only serve to make the situation worse.” He added, “We will not stand idly by whilst our industry is hit by unfair measures.”

The European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, also bemoaned, in the same communiqué, the American measures which “will have a negative impact upon both transatlantic relationships and global markets.”

She considered these measures “will both increase cost and reduce the choice for American steel and aluminium consumers, including for industries importing these products.”

Ms Malmström added, “The EU will start consultations as soon as possible upon regulating the disagreements with the US in Geneva.” 

She stated, “The Commission will monitor the evolution of the markets. If necessary we will propose measures to safeguard the position, compatible with the WTO [World Trade Organisation] to preserve the stability of the EU markets in steel and aluminium.”

The Brussels Times

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