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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

EU considers 25% tariffs on US steel, T-shirts, jeans

The move comes in response to US President Donald Trump proposing duty on aluminium and steel imports 

France and Germany are pushing for an EU-wide initiative to fund innovation and research in tech start-up projects. Jasper Juinen / Bloomberg
France and Germany are pushing for an EU-wide initiative to fund innovation and research in tech start-up projects. Jasper Juinen / Bloomberg

The European Union aims to target €2.8 billion ($3.5bn) of US goods ranging from T-shirts to motorcycles and ladders should President Donald Trump go ahead with his plan to impose a 25 per cent tariff on foreign steel, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

The EU aims to apply a tit-for-tat levy on a range of consumer, agricultural and steel goods imported from the US, according to a list drawn up by the European Commission and obtained by Bloomberg. The commission, the EU’s executive arm, discussed the measures with representatives of the bloc’s governments at a meeting on Monday evening in Brussels.

The EU’s retaliatory list targets imports from the US of shirts, jeans, cosmetics, other consumer goods, motorbikes and pleasure boats worth around €1bn; orange juice, bourbon whiskey, corn and other agricultural products totaling €951 million and steel and other industrial products valued at €854m.

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Any US tariffs will have limited impact on Emirates Steel's exports

China says it may hit back at proposed US tariffs on imported steel, aluminium

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On Friday, the International Monetary Fund said Mr Trump’s proposals to heavily tax steel and aluminium imports could damage the US economy, as fears of a trade war between the US and its key partners escalated with the EU threatening to impose retaliatory tariffs on the US.

Despite opposition from within his administration, Mr Trump on Thursday announced tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium imports.

“The import restrictions announced by the US President are likely to cause damage not only outside the US, but also to the US economy itself, including to its manufacturing and construction sectors, which are major users of aluminium and steel,” the IMF’s spokesperson Gerry Rice said in a statement on Friday night.

“We are concerned the measures proposed by the US will, de facto, expand the circumstances where countries use the national-security rationale to justify broad-based import restrictions.”

President Trump warned of more trade actions in the form of ‘reciprocal taxes’, the term he has used for imposing levies on imports from countries that charge higher tariffs on US goods that what the US charges them.

“Trade wars are good and easy to win,” he tweeted on Friday. "We must protect our country and our workers. Our steel industry is in bad shape. If you don't have steel, you don't have a country!"

Mr Trump’s aggressive proposal has sparked global outrage and fears that key US trading partners such as China and Europe will retaliate.

EU officials said earlier they would respond “firmly” if Mr Trump presses ahead with his plan for steep tariffs on metals, potentially by imposing 25 per cent tariffs on around $3.5bn of imports from the US, Reuters reported.

“We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk,” EC head Jean-Claude Juncker said.

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