The EU is ready to react proportionately and fully, in line with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, if the US measures are formalized and are seen to affect the EU’s economic interests, the EC said.
US President Donald Trump announced the imposition of import duties at rates of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium on March 1.
“We welcome the Commission’s announcement of a three-pronged approach - and especially that appropriate, sufficient and swift measures will be taken to safeguard the interests and jobs of our industry,” Eurofer director general Axel Eggert said.
“It is clear that any supplementary, sizeable import surge would again destabilize a European steel market that has only just begun to settle into a path toward sustainable growth,” he added.
The steel sector strongly supports the intention of the EU to challenge the US measures before the WTO, to safeguard the industry and rebalance trade, Eurofer said.
“We still hope, as a US security partner, that the EU would be excluded [from these trading sanctions]. We also hope to convince the US administration that this is not the right move. Because no decision has been taken yet, no formal action has been taken by the EU,” EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said.
“[Measures taken under Section 232] will put thousands of European jobs in jeopardy and must be met with a firm and proportionate response. Unlike the proposed US duties, our three tracks of work are in line with our obligations under the WTO. They will be carried out by the book,” Malmström added.
“The root cause of the problem in the steel and aluminium sectors is global overcapacity. It is rooted in the fact that a lot of steel and aluminium production takes place under massive state subsidies, and under non-market conditions,” she said.
“This can only be addressed by cooperation, getting to the source of the problem and working together. What is clear is that turning inward is not the answer. Protectionism cannot be the answer - it never is,” she concluded.
The EU is preparing to impose tariffs on a number of US goods, raising pressure on Trump to ditch his plan to tax steel imports, according to a report published by news agency Bloomberg on March 6.
“We have no comment to offer as regards the content of the list [of possible measures],” an EC spokesman told Metal Bulletin. “It’s ready but not public.”