On March 16, 2018, the European Commission released a 10-page list of U.S. products it plans to impose “rebalancing” duties on, in response to the recently adopted US steel tariff measures subjecting imports of steel and aluminum to 25% and 10% duties, respectively (see here for our previous post on this).
In order to inform its plan of action, the Commission has recently opened public consultations seeking views from affected stakeholders on the necessity and parameters of possible EU tariffs and customs duties action.
Presently, the EU is considering a two-phase retaliation strategy against the U.S. (summarized in its information gathering note), based on Article 8 of the WTO Safeguards Agreement. At this stage, the EU has focused on WTO process requirements for safeguards, highlighting its plans to: (i) notify the Council for Trade in Goods of the imminent suspension of concessions, and (ii) possibly impose the measures after 30 days from notification, but no later than 90 days from application of the U.S. measures (March 23, 2018).
In the first phase, the EU is considering the suspension of tariff concessions on products listed in Part A (including sweetcorn, cranberries, tobacco, makeup, clothing, and a lengthy list of steel products), valued at approximately €2.8 billion annually. This response is aimed at U.S. tariffs on steel imports.
In the second phase, the EU anticipates the possibility of increasing customs duties on certain U.S. products. These measures would potentially be implemented after three years from entry into force of the U.S. measures. Part B of the list sets out goods that may face tariffs in response to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. These products include: bourbon, paper, yarn, textiles, clothing, footwear, household articles, ceramics, glass, aluminum, washing machines, batteries, motor vehicles, fishing vessels, and motor boats.
The deadline for interested parties to provide a response to the consultations is March 26, 2018.