March 7 (UPI) — The European Union announced plans Wednesday to hit back against new tariffs on steel and aluminum promised by U.S. President Donald Trump — by taxing products like tobacco, orange juice and peanut butter from the United States.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the plan would be taken to the World Trade Organization and would coordinate with other trade partners — if Trump’s tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum are enacted.
Malmstrom said the EU hopes to convince the Trump administration to reconsider the tariffs.
“We have made clear that if a move like this is taken, it will hurt the European Union. It will put thousands of European jobs in jeopardy and it has to be met by firm and proportionate response,” Malmstrom said. “Unlike these proposed U.S. duties, our three tracks of work are in line with our obligations in the WTO. They will be carried out by the book.”
In addition to tobacco and orange juice, products like bed linen and cranberries are also on a provisional list of items that would be affected by the EU action.
Last week, Trump said the United States would impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent for aluminum — an announcement that’s raised concern around the world of a coming trade war.
On Tuesday, Trump said potential trade wars “aren’t so bad.” Previously, he’d said the tariffs might go away if Canada and Mexico renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement to better benefit U.S. trade.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven Tuesday, Trump said the United States has been treated unfairly by other countries in trade situations and cited barriers put in place by the European Union.
The European Union was the first trade partner to outline steps to retaliate, followed by Canada and Mexico.
“We have made it clear that a move that hurts the EU and puts thousands of European jobs in jeopardy will be met with a firm and proportionate response” @MalmstromEU on #EUTrade
The tariff announcement is good news for hundreds of U.S. employees in the industry.
In response to Trump’s tariff announcement, United States Steel Corporation announced Wednesday plans to reopen a dormant steel plant in Illinois and rehire 500 employees.
The company will restart one of two blast furnaces at its plant in Granite City, Ill. Employees will be called back to work beginning this month during an approximate four month restart process, U.S. Steel said.
“Our Granite City Works facility and employees, as well as the surrounding community, have suffered too long from the unending waves of unfairly traded steel products that have flooded U.S. markets,” U. S. Steel CEO David Burritt said in a statement. “The Section 232 action announced by President Trump last week recognizes the significant threat steel imports pose to our national and economic security. “
He added that “challenging market conditions, including global excess steel capacity and unfairly traded imports” is why the plant became idle in December 2015 and January 2016.
We announced the restart of a blast furnace and steelmaking facilities at our Granite City Works. This will support an anticipated demand for steel produced in the US. We plan to recall some 500 employees. Read more here: https://t.co/mEFz9jyt1V- U. S. Steel (@U_S_Steel) March 7, 2018