Retaliatory trade tariffs by European Union countries on a list of US products – agreed in response to US tariff hikes on steel and aluminium imports from Canada, the EU, and Mexico – will come into force on Friday, the European Commission announced on Wednesday.
From the start of June, the EU was hit by tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium imports imposed by US President Donald Trump, who justified the move on the grounds of national security.
“We did not want to be in this position. However, the unilateral and unjustified decision of the United States to impose steel and aluminium tariffs on the EU means that we are left with no other choice,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said.
The EU retaliatory tariffs will initially target a list of US goods worth 2.8bn euros ($3.24bn), most of which will be hit with import duties of 25 percent.
They range from agricultural products such as rice and orange juice to jeans, whiskey, motorbikes and various steel products.
The commission formally adopted the new tariffs, allowing them to come into effect on June 22.
It had previously registered the move with the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“The rules of international trade, which we have developed over the years hand in hand with our American partners, cannot be violated without a reaction from our side,” Malmstrom added, calling the EU response “measured, proportionate and fully in line with WTO rules.”
Other countries hit by the US tariffs have also retaliated, raising fears of a global trade war.
Brussels first drew up the list in March when US President Donald Trump initially floated the idea of tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.
Mexico has also announced it will impose tariffs on US imports, including pork bellies, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel, among other products.
Canada promised retaliatory tariffs worth $12.8bn on US products including steel, aluminium, whiskey and orange juice.
Beijing says they will impose measures ‘of the same scale and strength’ after Washington announced a 25 percent tariff on $50bn worth of Chinese goods over “unfair trade practices”.