EU to be temporarily exempted from US steel tariffs

The US has announced that the EU will be temporarily exempted of the decision to impose 25 per cent additional duties on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium until 1 May.

Steel factory | Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

23 Mar 2018

Washington said that EU member states and six other countries would be exempt from controversial tariffs.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said President Donald Trump had decided to “pause the implementation of the tariffs in respect to” the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil and South Korea. The US had previously announced exemptions for Canada and Mexico.

The decision was welcomed by the business community, MEPs and others.


Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said this was “the result of a clear stance of the Europeans in talks with the US,” adding, “A trade war would have harmed both sides.”

Speaking on Friday in Brussels where she had been attending an EU summit, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said, “We’ve been working very hard to secure an EU-wide exemption to the steel tariffs that the Americans have announced.

“I am pleased they have announced a temporary exemption for the EU. What I will be working with my fellow EU leaders today on is to see how we can secure a permanent exemption for the EU for those steel tariffs. We’re talking about what the next steps might be.

“And I’ve stayed on to talk about those next steps because the steel industry is hugely important to the UK and to the British government. And I want to ensure that steel workers and their jobs are properly safeguarded.

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said, “We will have to wait overnight how exactly the decision of the US government will look like.”

German MEP Manfred Weber, leader of Parliament’s EPP group, added, “Now it is time to sit together and find a common approach for the future. Global trade needs less tariffs.”

Further comment came from Greens/EFA co-leaders Philippe Lamberts and Ska Keller who said, “The Commission has done well to protect European interests and avoid EU exports being subject to US tariffs.

“However, that doesn’t alter the fact that Trump’s actions are illegal and his pretext of protecting national security is completely false. The EU must be clear that it will not negotiate under threat of continued bullying tactics.”

Parliament President Antonio Tajani had expressed concern at the US moves to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium, saying, “The real problem is Chinese overcapacity and the unfair practices China employs in order to offload the products of that overcapacity on to others. Rather than engaging in a dangerous and escalating war of words, the USA and the EU should be addressing this problem together.”


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