European Union to host US, Japan on steel as US tariffs loom

European Commissioner Malmstrom, who coordinates policy for the 28-nation EU, the world's biggest trading bloc, said she stood ready to go to the WTO, the global trade arbiter, to impose the bloc's own safeguards within 90 days.

Trump signed proclamations Thursday imposing import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium products, invoking a rarely used United States law authorizing presidential action against imports that undermine national security.

She said her March 10 meeting with Lighthizer, the USA trade representative, was scheduled "many months ago" to address, among other things, global steel overcapacity.

"It would be completely irresponsible to create an atmosphere where we can say, don't worry, everything will go well and smoothly because we simply don't know", European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen told reporters in Brussels.

The EU has become increasingly exasperated with Trump's "America First" agenda, viewing it as a threat to the multilateral trade order that the US played a leading role in building after World War II.

Brussels has already drawn up a hit list of flagship American products to target for countermeasures if its exports are affected by the tariffs including peanut butter, bourbon whiskey and orange juice. She noted that under WTO rules, once Trump's tariffs come into force in two weeks, the European Union would have 90 days to enact the measures.

"Everything you have for breakfast", Malmstroem said. It's enough to go to the beginning of the 2000s when the USA authorities imposed steel tariffs for Europe.

Malmstrom said she would discuss the issue at a long-planned meeting on Saturday with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his Japanese counterpart Hiroshige Seko, noting that it was "not crystal clear" what Trump had decided Thursday.

Malmstrom has a previously scheduled meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Brussels on Saturday and said she would seek further clarity on whether the European Union was going to be included in the tariffs. "We have to chose whether we want rules-based trade. or whether we want the rule of force, the rule of the strongest, which we have now seen". "But then what happens when Wilbur Ross or somebody else says 'wait a minute".

"We are an ally, not a threat", Katainen said.

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