Brussels - The European Union plans to impose retaliatory tariffs on a range of US imports from July, in response to increased steel and aluminium import duties introduced by Washington, the bloc's executive announced on Wednesday.
The retaliatory measures will hit a range of US exports including agricultural products such as peanuts and orange juice, as well as denim trousers, motorcycles and whiskey. Tariffs on these goods will be raised to 25 per cent.
The move follows a decision by US President Donald Trump to impose import duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium products.
Last week, he ended a temporary waiver for the EU, as well as Canada and Mexico, increasing concerns of an all-out trade war between major economies.
The EU argues that the US tariffs are unjustified and in breach of World Trade Organization rules. In such situations, the Geneva-based trade watchdog allows the imposition of countermeasures to an equivalent value of the damage caused by unfair duties.
"This is a measured and proportionate response to the unilateral and illegal decision taken by the United States to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminium exports," said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.
Further European consultations
The European Commission now needs to consult with EU member states on the planned measures, a process it plans to conclude by the end of June so the tariffs can take effect from July, commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic announced Wednesday.
The initial tariffs will hit US products worth up to 2.8 billion euros (3.3 billion dollars), the commission said. A second round of tariffs, targeting a further 3.6 billion euros worth of US products, can be introduced at a later stage.
The EU is also disputing Washington's metals tariffs before the WTO. In parallel, the 28-country bloc has vowed to protect its domestic producers against an influx of steel and aluminium products originally intended for the US market.
On Tuesday, Mexico retaliated to the US move by imposing tariffs on US farm and steel products.