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1ST LEAD Top EU trade official to visit Washington amid steel tariff dispute By Helen Maguire, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Brussels (dpa) - EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom is due to conduct talks with her US counterparts in Washington this week, with the European Union seeking an exemption to US steel and aluminium import tariffs due to come into force later this week.

Malmstrom announced on Monday she would travel to Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday, where she will meet US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and other interlocutors.

"My message is that the EU should be excluded as a whole," Malmstrom said of her upcoming trip to Washington.

"We want to work with the US and other partners in the world to address the root cause of this issue, which is overcapacity in steel production," she added.

The new German economy minister Peter Altmaier was in Washington on Monday with the same goal in mind. He met with his counterpart Ross to sound out possibilities for an agreement.

"Nobody knows if we will have an outcome by the end of the week," Altmaier said on German broadcaster ARD on Sunday before his departure. "We must try to find compromises."

The United States is due to introduce import tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium products at the end of this week, 15 days after US President Donald Trump triggered the move, earning global condemnation as well as some domestic criticism.

The EU has argued that it should be exempt from the tariffs, as it is a long-standing security partner of the US and is already cooperating on efforts to address global steel overcapacity.

However, the 28-country bloc has also vowed to take countermeasures, in line with World Trade Organization rules, should it be hit with the new import tariffs.

Trump justified his decision by invoking national security concerns, while giving countries the chance to seek case-by-case exemptions from the tariffs.

The US Department of Commerce has since announced its procedures for excluding products from the tariffs. The procedures allow the administration "to further hone these tariffs to ensure they protect our national security while also minimizing undue impact on downstream American industries," Ross said in a statement Sunday.

Trump administration officials, including Ross, will evaluate exclusion requests taking into account national security considerations, the statement said.

The evaluation will consider whether a product is produced in the US in a satisfactory quality or in a sufficient amount. A flood of exclusion request applications is expected, and the department said it would answer each at the website


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