TRADE: European Commission reacts to the US restrictions on steel and aluminium

As of today, the United States is imposing additional duties of 25 % and 10 % respectively on imports of steel and aluminium from the EU.

President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker said: “This is protectionism, pure and simple. 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.” Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “We did everything to avoid this outcome. Throughout the talks we had over the last couple of months, 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 have just triggered a dispute settlement case at the WTO. We will also impose rebalancing measures and take any necessary steps to protect the EU market from trade diversion caused by these US restrictions.” As an imminent reaction to the US measures, the EU launches today legal proceedings against the US in the WTO and started preparations to trigger its rebalancing measures targeting a number of US products with extra duties. The EU notified its potential rebalancing to the WTO on 18 May and, in line with the Organisation rules, could trigger them 30 days later. An investigation towards possible imposition of safeguard measures on steel launched on 26 March in ongoing and could be concluded whenever the investigation confirms the necessity for swift action. The US measures affect EU exports worth €6.4 billion in 2017. For more information see the press release. A press conference with Commissioner Malmström will take place in Brussels at 14:00 (CET) today and will be followed by a technical briefing for accredited journalists. It can be followed online.