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EU warns of retaliatory tariffs on $20 billion worth of US goods

European trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom addresses a press conference on the US restrictions on steel and aluminium affecting the European Union at the European Commission in Brussels on June 1, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The European Union has warned that it would impose duties on $20 billion of American products if US President Donald Trump makes good on his tariff threat on imported cars, the bloc’s trade commissioner said.

Cecilia Malmstrom made the remarks on the eve of a meeting between Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Washington.

“We hope that this won’t happen and that we can reach a solution. If not, then the European Commission will prepare a long list on American goods. It would amount to around $20 billion,” Malmstrom told the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter (DN) on Wednesday.

According to the European trade chief, the American goods would include machinery, agricultural and high-tech products, among others.

Trump is due to meet Juncker in Washington on Wednesday for talks on trade. He has threatened to extend the US import tariffs on EU steel and aluminum to autos and auto parts.

Cars are lined up past a container vessel at the port in Valencia, Spain, June 28, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

Juncker, who reiterated that Brussels would retaliate if Trump goes through with the measures, told German public broadcaster ZDF on Wednesday that the EU is "not in the dock, we don't need to defend ourselves."

"We don't know any other strategy than dialogue," said Malmstrom.

"We will explain that the EU is not a foe but a friend and an ally. We and the US share same view that the World Trade Organization must modernize," she told the Swedish newspaper.

Trump recently described the European Union as "a foe" in trade. He sees the bloc’s trade surplus with the US as a risk to his country's economy.

Trump imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from several countries earlier this year, including those in the EU. The bloc retaliated with levies on several American products, including motorcycles and jeans.

Now the Trump administration is considering hitting back with measures to limit imports of European cars to the US.

The European Commission has sent Washington an 11-page document warning that any such measure would be counterproductive as 120,000 American jobs are directly dependent on European auto manufacturers.

Rodney Shakespeare, political commentator, warned on Wednesday that the US trade war with other countries may end up in a multipolar world.

“The USA is estranging everybody not only in trade but in breaking agreements;” so as a result of American policies, estrangement and break-up is going to take place, Rodney Shakespeare, told Press TV. 

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