US plans to impose tariffs on steel, aluminium imports from EU

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The Trump administration is planning to impose punitive tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the European Union (EU), local media reported on Wednesday.

The administration is expected to make an announcement as early as Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter.

The move is almost certain to draw a response from the EU, which has threatened to retaliate with its own tariffs on such American products as motorcycles, jeans and bourbon, the report said.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced in March to impose 25-percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminium, while delaying implementation for some trading partners to offer concessions to avoid the tariffs.

The Trump administration is using a decades-old law, the so-called Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act from 1962, to impose tariffs on the ground of national security, which has drawn strong opposition from the domestic business community and U.S. trading partners.

The White House said in late April that the steel and aluminium tariff exemptions for EU member countries would be extended until June 1 in order to give "a final 30 days" for them to reach agreements over trade negotiations.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has demanded that all EU member countries should be permanently exempt from the steel and aluminium tariffs as a condition for any future trade talks.

But U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Wednesday that the EU should continue to negotiate with the U.S. if tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the EU are imposed this week.

The Trump administration last week also initiated a national security investigation into automobile imports, which could lead to more tariffs on imported European cars.

Analysts said new tariffs on European steel, aluminium and autos are likely to further increase trade frictions between the United States and the trading bloc.

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