The European Union is proposing new tariffs on USA agriculture, textile, tobacco and a host of other products in response to the Trump administration's plan to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.
European Union officials said they needed to move ahead now in order to meet World Trade Organisation deadlines on notifying countermeasures against the US's planned 25 per cent tariffs on steel imports and 10 per cent tariffs on aluminium imports. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom meet next week to discuss the issue.
According to CNN Money, U.S exports worth 6.4 billion euros ($7.9 billion) could be subject to the tariffs - equal to the value of steel and aluminum shipped each year from the European Union to the United States.
The 10-page list includes hundreds of products imported from the United States to the European Union, including cigarettes, whiskey, corn, yachts and kitchen furniture. It also includes many metals products for use in construction and industry. The EU says the USA cannot use national security as a justification for its metals tariffs, which means Europe can respond with "rebalancing" measures.
If the United States presses ahead, it is "something that would be very disruptive for transatlantic relations", an official said.
The two product sets combined would aim to counter-balance the damage of US measures to the bloc's 6.4 billion euros of aluminium and steel exports to the United States.
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European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström called the prospects of US steel tariffs "deeply unjust".
European leaders say a trade war could be avoided by offering the EU an exemption from any new metal tariffs.
The EU's 28 member states would also have to agree on any action.
The EU disputes Trump's line on tariffs and his emphasis on cars, for which the US tariff, at 2.5 percent, is lower than the EU's 10 percent.
The spokesman declined to provide details about how the administration would like China to accomplish the surplus-cutting goal - whether increased purchases of USA products such as soybeans or aircraft would suffice, or whether it wants China to make changes to its industrial policies, cut subsidies to state-owned enterprises or further reduce steel and aluminum capacity.