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"The European Commission today officially adopted potential retaliatory measures against President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, which it plans to notify to the World Trade Organization on Friday. Should Trump slap duties on EU steel and aluminum exports on June 1, the EU could retaliate by almost immediately targeting U.S. products worth €2.83 billion. The notification to the WTO does not mean that Brussels will definitely retaliate, a Commission official said, adding that it was “a purely procedural step … to preserve our rights” at the Geneva-based trade body. “We might revise [the retaliation list] or withdraw from it,” depending on what Trump decides, the official said. EU officials and diplomats, however, have remarked that the timing of today’s adoption comes at a critical moment as both Brussels and Washington have stepped up rhetorical pressure in past days. European Council President Donald Tusk said today in response to Trump’s tariff threat that the EU should “stick to our guns.” He insisted that “a permanent exemption” from the threatened duties was a precondition for potential trade talks with the U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday that the Trump tariffs “will go into effect” on June 1 if both sides don’t reach a “reasonable conclusion” in their bilateral discussions. Ross and European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström spoke again over the phone on Tuesday, and “contacts will continue in the coming days,” a Commission spokesperson said today. However, there’s still no sign of an agreement between the two sides, EU officials told POLITICO."

Posted May 16th, 2018