March 12, 2018 / 1:39 PM / 9 months ago

EU's Timmermans says response to Trump tariffs to conform to WTO rules

European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans addresses a news conference during a European Union's General Affairs Council in Brussels, Belgium, February 27, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

DILLINGEN, Germany (Reuters) - Europe does not understand the logic of proposed U.S. steel tariffs on the basis of national security concerns but will prepare retaliatory measures if necessary, European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans said on Monday.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump pressed ahead with import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent for aluminum, exempting Canada and Mexico and offering the possibility of excluding other allies.

Describing the dumping of steel and aluminum in the U.S. market as “an assault on our country,” Trump said that the best outcome would be for companies to move their mills and smelters to the United States. He insisted that domestic metals production was vital to national security.

Timmermans said that if the reason for Trump’s measures is security, then there should be no reason to impose these tariffs on Europe.

“How is European steel a threat to the U.S.?” Timmermans said at a steel conference held in Dillingen, Germany. “We have a different relationship on matters of national security than the U.S. has with China.

“If it becomes necessary, we will prepare countermeasures, but these will be conform to World Trade Organisation rules,” Timmermans added.

“I think in Trump’s view of the world, when the other person loses, he wins. But in this situation there will be no winners.”

Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Arno Schuetze and Mark Heinrich

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