The European Union’s trade commissioner warned that the US is playing a “dangerous game” by slapping tariffs on European steel and aluminium.
Cecilia Malmström said that the EU would go to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to challenge the tariff.
She said that retaliatory tariffs will be necessary to impose as “we cannot just take these tariffs and stay silent.”
The US’ decision is “further weakening” relations between the two sides, Malmström said.
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“The EU wanted to avoid this situation,” she said. “We have spent a lot of time, we have had numerous talks via different channels, to present a positive transatlantic trade agenda.”
“We are not seeking to escalate any situation,” Malmström added, “but not responding would be the same as accepting these tariffs, which we consider are illegal.”
The EU has started the process of its appeal with the WTO.
“The WTO is not perfect but we have constructed it with allies including the US and we are expecting everyone to play by the rules,” Malmström said.
“If players do not stick to rule book, the system might collapse and that is why we are challenging both China and US.”
UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox was quoted by the BBC as saying that the 25% tariff on steel was “patently absurd”.
“It would be a great pity if we ended up in a tit-for-tat trade dispute with our closest allies,” Fox added.