As Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said the US tariffs on steel products are leading to trade diversion, which may damage EU steelmakers and workers in this industry.

We are left with no other choice than to introduce provisional safeguard measures to protect our domestic industry against a surge of imports. These measures nevertheless ensure that the EU market remains open, and will maintain traditional trade flows. We will continue to monitor steel imports in order to take a final decision by early next year, at the latest.

The provisional measures regard 23 steel product categories and will take the form of a Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ). Tariffs of 25% will only be imposed once imports surpass the average of imports over the last three years. The quota is allocated on a first come first serve basis.

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The measures are imposed against all countries, except for some developing countries with limited exports to the EU. In addition, European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) have also been exempted from the measures. The provisional safeguard measures can remain in place for up to 200 days.

These measures are part of a three-pronged response outlined by the European Commission earlier this year. As the Commission said:

As a result of the import duties applied by the United States as of 23 March under Section 232 of the US Trade Expansion Act of 1962, exporting steel to the United States has become less attractive.

The US decided to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from key allies in Europe and North America. Namely, the US will establish a 25% tax on steel and 10% tax on aluminium from the EU, Mexico and Canada.