European Commission Readies Retaliatory Tariffs if No Deal on Aluminium Duties is Reached

With the threat of the lapse of the European Union’s temporary exemption from the Trump administration’s blanket 10-percent tariffs looming, the European Commission released a laundry list of products upon which it intends to levy retaliatory sanctions should a long-term exemption not be granted.

The Commission released the list on Friday, which includes tariffs of up to 50 percent on a broad selection of United States goods, from butter and cranberries to bourbon and motorcycles.

In its release, the Commission termed the tariffs as a “re-balancing” measure meant to compensate for losses incurred due to the Trump administration’s actions.

“Today, the EU has notified to the WTO a list of US products on which the EU may in the future apply extra import duties. This would be to compensate in an equivalent manner for the impact of the US tariff measures on steel and aluminium, which the EU considers to be safeguard measures in effect, should they enter into force.”

The Trump tariffs will affect up to €1 billion (US$1.2 billion) in aluminium exports from European Union states. All told, the losses the Commission expects the EU to sustain from both the aluminium tariffs and the 25-percent steel tariffs could be up to €2.8 billion (US$3.3 billion).

Discussions between EU officials and the Trump administration continue, with the deadline for having a deal in place only 11 days away. European Commission ministers will be meeting separately to weigh a trade deal and a proposal that would allow for US exports of natural gas to the EU. The latter, however, is likely contingent upon an agreement over the Trump administration’s tariffs.

The Trump administration enacted the 10-percent tariffs in March on advice from the Commerce Department after an investigation weighing potential national security concerns surrounding the importation of specialty aluminium. A handful of long-term exemptions have been granted to date, though negotiations with a myriad of countries’ governments continue.

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