EU Reiterates Threat to Retaliate Against U.S. Tariffs

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(Bloomberg) -- The European Union reiterated its threat to impose countermeasures if the U.S. doesn’t grant the bloc a permanent exemption from American steel and aluminum tariffs, a decision the Trump administration postponed for 30 days earlier this week.

While repeating that the EU won’t negotiate “under threat,” a spokesman for the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, said “we keep having contact at all levels” over the U.S. levies of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum announced in March on national-security grounds. President Donald Trump on Monday granted another month for the EU, Canada and Mexico to continue negotiations for permanent exemptions from the duties.

“The discussion between the EU and the U.S. continues following the announcement of the extension of the EU exemption,” the commission spokesman, Enrico Brivio, told reporters in Brussels on Friday. However, “we are not negotiating under threat.”

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday that the waiver for the EU “should be unconditional and permanent.” He warned the Trump administration against trying to dictate terms of trans-Atlantic trade relations.

“The EU is convinced that we should receive a full and unconditional exemption from the announced steel and aluminum tariffs. For the commission, that remains the main goal of these discussions,” the commission spokesman said on Friday. “At the same time, we are preparing a triple WTO-compatible reaction in case the EU is not permanently exempted.”

EU leaders plan to discuss trade and the U.S. during a dinner session at an informal summit in Sofia, Bulgaria on May 16, according to an EU diplomat.

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