The EU has published its response to the U.S. Section 232 tariffs on EU steel and aluminium products. With Regulation 2018/724 (Regulation), the EU plans to introduce an additional import duty of 25 percent on 182 U.S. products from June 20, 2018. In addition, another 158 U.S. products will face additional duties of 10-50 percent if it is confirmed that the U.S. Section 232 tariffs violate WTO rules. Stakeholders importing into the EU should consider the impact these additional duties could have on their businesses.

Currently, the EU is negotiating with the United States to obtain a permanent exemption from the U.S. Section 232 tariffs on EU steel and aluminium exports. The U.S. has not yet decided whether to permanently exempt EU products from these tariffs. In response, the EU used its right under Article 8 of the WTO Safeguards Agreement to suspend its tariff concessions vis-à-vis the U.S., and to proceed with the imposition of additional import duties on certain U.S. goods.

The imposition of additional customs duties will follow a two-step process:

  • The first step involves imposing an ad valorem duty of 25 percent on imports of products listed in Annex I of the Regulation, from June 20, 2018.
  • The second step involves imposing additional customs duties with a maximum rate of 10 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent or 50 percent on imports of products listed in Annex II of the Regulation (i) from March 23, 2021 or (ii) upon the determination by the WTO that the U.S. Section 232 measures are inconsistent with WTO rules.

The targeted U.S. goods include:

  • 106 steel and aluminium products, including certain iron, steel, and steel alloy materials, and aluminium plates, sheets and strips;
  • 10 apparel, textile and footwear products, including certain T-shirts, denim trousers, footwear and bed linens;
  • 13 industrial goods, including cosmetics, motorcycles and various categories of boats;
  • 52 agricultural products, including certain beans, grains, berries, juices, peanut butter, whiskey and tobacco products.

These additional EU duties will remain in place as long as the U.S. applies its U.S. Section 232 measures on EU products.