European Union says talks 'the prime option' in U.S. tariffs row

European Union says talks 'the prime option' in U.S. tariffs row

European Union says talks 'the prime option' in U.S. tariffs row

"As a close security and trade partner of the US, the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures", Malmstrom, the 28-nation bloc's trade commissioner, said in a tweet after a meeting with the U.S.'s top trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer.

The EU's top trade official Cecilia Malmstroem and Japanese Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko began preliminary talks in Brussels ahead of the sitdown with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The EU has warned that it stands ready to slap "rebalancing" tariffs on about 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) worth of US steel, agricultural and other products, like peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice.

Canada and Mexico were given specific exemptions from the tariffs for an indefinite period while negotiations continue on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The US president's plan would affect European Union steel exports, valued at €5.3 billion and aluminium exports worth €1.1 billion previous year, and has opened the door to the prospect of an imminent transatlantic trade war.

Saturday's meetings in Brussels had been previously planned but took on greater importance because of Trump's announcement of a 25-percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports. The EU wants to find out exactly what mandate he has and precisely what conditions allow exemptions, but it is ruling out any negotiations for US market access.

"The exact nature of the (EU) steps will be decided after a close analysis of the American measures."Separately, Germany's transatlantic coordinator, Juergen Hardt, told Reuters the US government should have exempted its European allies from punitive tariffs imposed against steel and aluminium imports that were primarily aimed at China".

Seko did not go into what conditions might allow Japan to evade tariffs and, asked if Lighthizer had brought up the USA trade deficit with Japan, Seko said no.

"We expressed our concern".

Mr Seko called for calm-headed behaviour in the dispute.

Japan, he said, would stick to WTO rules in terms of taking measures. "We will look at the impact on Japanese businesses and make a final decision".

Minister Hiroshige Seko told a news conference his United States counterpart Robert Lighthizer had only explained the schedule and procedure of the USA actions in talks in Brussels. Under World Trade Organization rules, such counter-measures have to be in place within 90 days of the US tariffs entering force.

European Commissioner Malmstrom, who coordinates policy for the 28-nation EU, the world's biggest trading bloc, said she stood ready to go to the WTO, the worldwide trade arbiter, to impose the bloc's own safeguards within 90 days.

It has already started monitoring incoming metal flows to see whether a surge occurs.

Malmstroem said the EU was still trying to persuade Washington not to go ahead with the tariffs, which she said would threaten "thousands of European jobs".

Related news