President Trump is considering imposing tariffs on European steel and aluminium imports after failing to win concessions from the European Union, a move that could provoke retaliatory tariffs and inflame transatlantic trade tensions.
The tariffs on the EU are likely to come into effect with an announcement by Friday's deadline, according to two people familiar with the discussions. The administration's plans could change if the two sides are able to reach a last-minute agreement, said these two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Trump announced in March that the United States would slap a 25% tariff on imported steel, and a 10% tariff on imported aluminium, citing national security interests. But he granted an exemption to the EU and other US allies; that reprieve expires on Friday.
Europe has been bracing itself the US measures even as top European officials hold last-ditch talks in Paris with American trade officials to try to avert the tariffs.
"Realistically, I do not think we can hope to avoid either US tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminium", said Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Union's trade commissioner. Even if the US were to agree to waive the tariffs on imported steel and aluminium, Malmstrom said, "I expect them nonetheless to want to impose some sort of cap on EU exports."
European officials said they expected the US to announce its final decision on Thursday. The people familiar with the talks said Trump could make an announcement as early as Thursday.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross attended meetings at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris yesterday, and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer joined discussions in Paris today, Thursday May 31st.