In March 2018, President Trump announced that under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the United States would increase tariffs on imports of certain steel products by 25 percent and imports on certain aluminum products by 10 percent on countries worldwide, including imports from the members of the European Union (EU) and Turkey. Although the EU was initially exempted from the imposition of tariffs, these tariffs came into place pursuant to two Presidential Proclamations issued on May 31, 2018. In response, the EU and Turkey announced their intent to impose retaliatory tariff measures.
On June 20, 2018, the EU announced the adoption of regulations putting in place “rebalancing measures” in response to the U.S. Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs. The EU’s measures came into effect on June 22, 2018 and target a list of products worth $3.2 billion, ranging from industrial goods to consumer items and agricultural products. The EU’s announcement emphasized that (1) its steel and aluminum exports to the United States affected by the U.S. government’s Section 232 measures are worth approximately $7.1 billion, (2) the EU aims to rebalance $3.2 billion worth of exports immediately, and (3) the remaining rebalancing worth $3.8 billion will occur within the next three years or after a positive finding in WTO dispute settlement, whichever occurs first. A full list of U.S. products targeted by EU tariffs can be found here. The EU rebalancing measures will be effective for as long as the U.S. tariffs remain in place, in line with the WTO Safeguards Agreement and EU legislation. EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said, “We did not want to be in this position. However, the unilateral and unjustified decision of the U.S. to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the EU means that we are left with no other choice.”
On June 21, 2018, Turkey also announced the imposition of retaliatory tariffs on select U.S. products. The announced tariffs follow Turkey’s notification to the WTO on May 21, 2018. U.S. products targeted by Turkish tariffs include coal, paper, walnuts/almonds, tobacco, unprocessed rice, whisky, automobiles, cosmetics, machinery equipment and petrochemical products. In announcing these tariffs, Turkey indicated that it had “repeatedly and clearly communicated that none of America’s stated criteria for imposing tariffs are applicable to Turkey or Turkish exporters” and that the United States has a trade surplus in steel commerce with Turkey. The total amount of targeted U.S. exports to Turkey equals $1.8 billion. A full list of products targeted by Turkey’s tariffs can be found here.