The EU says it expects to retaliate next month after the US imposed tariffs on the bloc’s steel and aluminium products, sparking fears of a global trade war.
There was shock when the world’s largest economy confirmed it was imposing the duties on the EU, Canada and Mexico from 1 June, as part of President Donald Trump’s protectionist agenda aimed at saving US jobs.
The EU issued an update on its response on Wednesday, 24 hours after Mexico confirmed it had launched tit-for-tat tariffs on US steel and was also targeting US goods such as pork and bourbon products.
Officials in Brussels, who are leading the member states’ response, said nations had given broad support for a plan to set duties on €2.8bn (£2.5bn) of US exports.
These are expected to target US-produced metals and other products such as jeans and whiskey.
However, there are believed to be divisions over the scale of the fightback, with Germany said to be resisting demands in some quarters for a more punitive response.
EU Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic told reporters: “The Commission expects to conclude the relevant procedure in coordination with member states before the end of June so that the new duties start applying in July.”
EU capitals are united in so much as no one wants a trade war – with the US stepping back from the brink of penalties against China following progress in talks with Beijing.
However, the prospect of a failure in efforts to find a solution has rattled financial markets as investors fret on potential damage to world economic growth.
The US measures have resulted in official complaints to the World Trade Organisation by those targeted, but such disputes have a habit of dragging on for months if not years.