PARIS — European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said Wednesday that it was realistic to expect the United States to impose tariffs or quotas against European steel and aluminum exports starting Friday.
“Hopefully we will be able to have a positive agenda with the U.S. side, with no tariffs or quotas. Realistically, however, we do not think we can hope for that,” Malmström said in a statement issued after meeting with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
A European diplomat said that EU countries had been told by the Commission “to prepare for the worst.”
Earlier Wednesday, Ross told a panel at an intergovernmental meeting that the European Union should still negotiate a trade deal with the U.S. even if President Donald Trump imposes tariffs or quotas.
“There can be negotiations with or without tariffs in place,” he said. “There are plenty of tariffs the EU has on us. It’s not that we can’t talk just because there’s tariffs.”
Asked about talks for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which was negotiated under the Obama administration, the commerce secretary said that it was “not quite accurate to say the U.S. stopped the talks on TTIP” when Trump entered the White House.
Ross claimed the U.S. had used “every single public speaking engagement” to signal that “we’re prepared to engage with the EU.” However, “the EU has showed relatively limited interest in serious negotiation with us,” he argued.