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EU readies new trade retaliation list before Trump visit

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European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom attends an interview with Reuters in Geneva, Switzerland June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s trade commissioner said yesterday she hopes an EU mission to Washington will ease a transatlantic trade dispute but the bloc is preparing a list of US imports to hit if the United States imposes tariffs on EU cars.

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Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom will travel to Washington on July 25 with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, with the latter due to hold talks focused on trade with US President Donald Trump.

The United States imposed tariffs on EU steel and aluminum on June 1 and Mr Trump is threatening to extend them to EU cars and car parts.

Ms Malmstrom said the US car sector was healthy and that no one involved in the sector had called for tariffs.

The EU has already imposed its own import tariffs on 2.8 billion euros ($3.25 billion) worth of U.S. products ranging from bourbon to motor-bikes.

Corresponding measures for cars would be far higher.

The Commission on Wednesday briefed representatives of EU countries on possible action.

One EU diplomat familiar with Wednesday’s talks said the Commission gave no examples of US products that might be hit, but said they could in theory total 9 billion euros, although it could also go for a larger list of products with lower tariffs.

Mr Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said on Wednesday he expected Mr Juncker to come with a significant trade offer.

Some reports have said that a multilateral deal to remove car tariffs was one idea put forward.

“The aim of President Juncker’s visit is to try to establish a good relations, try to see how we can de-escalate the situation, avoiding it going further and see if there is a forum where we can discuss these issues,” Ms Malmstrom said.

“We don’t go there to negotiate anything,” she added.

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