EU to impose retaliatory tariffs on US starting in July

The European Union announced on Wednesday it would impose retaliatory tariffs on the United States beginning in July, in response to President Donald Trump’s duties on steel and aluminum imports from Europe.

“This is a measured and proportionate response to the unilateral and illegal decision taken by the United States to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminum exports,” Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for trade, said in a statement.

The EU said it will impose the “rebalancing” tariffs on about $3.3 billion (2.8 billion euros) worth of U.S. steel, bourbon, agricultural products including sweetcorn, orange juice, cranberries and certain clothing made of cotton.

The world’s largest trading bloc notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of the plan, and will impose additional duties of about $4.2 billion (3.6 billion euros) in three years’ time if the case is ongoing, or after the WTO rules in favor of the EU.

“The EU's reaction is fully in line with international trade law,” Malmström said. “We regret that the United States left us with no other option than to safeguard EU interests.”

U.S. President Donald Trump last week imposed 25% tariffs on steel and 10% duties on aluminum imported from the EU (in addition to Mexico and Canada), removing an earlier two-month exemption, citing national security concerns.

“We take the view that without a strong economy, you can’t have strong national security,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said during a call with reporters last week.

The move was scrutinized by leaders in the EU and lawmakers stateside, including from Trump’s own party. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., called the decision “dumb,” adding “you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents.”

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., was also critical of the president’s decision, warning about potential retaliation from the trading bloc.

“Bad news that @POTUS has decided to impose taxes on American consumers buying steel and aluminum from our closest allies--Canada, the EU, and Mexico (with whom we run a trade surplus on steel). In addition to higher prices, these tariffs invite retaliation,” Toomey tweeted last week.