BRUSSELS – The European Union’s commissioner for trade, Cecilia Malmström, said on Tuesday she did not think the United States would continue to exempt the bloc from its hiked tariffs on steel and aluminum and believed Washington was unhappy with what was being brought to the negotiating table.
Speaking to press ahead of a trade ministers’ council in Brussels, Malmström said she spoke to US trade secretary Wilbur Ross several times a week and warned that the bloc was not yet clear on whether President Donald Trump would decide to continue to exempt the EU from the 25 percent steel and 10 percent aluminum tariffs.
“We have no clarity yet, the deadline expires June 1 and I don’t think the exemptions will be prolonged so there will be some sort of decision and we need to prepare for different scenarios,” she said.
The tariffs entered into force on March 23, but Trump temporarily exempted some of his main allies from them and made way for negotiations on import quotas of these products.
German economy minister Peter Altmaier said the EU and the US needed to come to an understanding to avoid a trade war and urged Brussels to start talks with Washington over topics where there are conflicts of interest, such as industrial standards and the automobile industry.
His position clashed with many bloc leaders, who have taken the possibility of talks off the table.