Europe wants to avoid a trade war with the United States over its plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium, but is preparing immediate counter-measures just in case, European Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said.
Trump is expected to sign a presidential proclamation to establish the tariffs during a ceremony on Thursday, though White House officials have said it could slide into Friday because documents have to be cleared through a legal process.
“If Donald Trump puts in place the measures this evening, we have a whole arsenal at our disposal with which to respond,” Moscovici told BFM TV on Thursday.
He said counter-measures would include European tariffs on U.S. exported oranges, tobacco and bourbon. Europe could also file an eventual complaint before the World Trade Organization, Moscovici said.
“We must accept that the world becomes a place of each man for himself,” the commissioner said.
The U.S. leader’s proposal for a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium has rattled global markets as well as prominent congressional Republicans and business leaders worried about the potential economic fallout.
Moscovici said some of the goods under consideration for an EU riposte were largely produced in constituencies held by Trump’s Republican party.
“We want Congress to understand that this would be a lose-lose situation,” he said.