The European Union says it is not clear whether the bloc will be exempt from U.S. President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said Friday in Brussels, “We hope that we can get confirmation that the EU is excluded from this.”
Trump signed proclamations Thursday imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a ten percent tariff on imported aluminum, with the new taxes set to go into effect in two weeks.
Canada and Mexico were given specific exemptions from the tariffs for an indefinite period while negotiations continue on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Malmstroem said the European Union was “not preparing for battle,” but was ready to slap retaliatory tariffs on American products, which she said could include peanut butter and orange juice.
“Dialogue is always the prime option for the European Union,” Malmstroem said. She said the European Union is “counting on being excluded” from the tariffs.
“The loss of exports to the U.S., combined with an expected massive import surge in the EU could cost tens of thousands of jobs in the EU steel industry and related sectors,” said Axel Eggert, director general of EUROFER, the European steel association. “Ironically, estimates also show that the U.S. could also suffer a net loss of jobs as a result of the measure.”
Trump imposed the tariffs despite pleas from friends and allies who warned the new measure could ignite a trade war.