EU would strike back at U.S. car tariffs, trade chief warns

The European Union would retaliate against any U.S. decision to impose tariffs on car imports, though the bloc hopes it can avoid such a confrontation, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said.

“These tariffs would be damaging, not only for the European economy but for the U.S. economy,” Malmstrom said Wednesday in Washington after meeting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The EU would complain to the World Trade Organization and slap retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products if President Donald Trump imposed barriers against European cars, she told reporters. EU tariffs would be a “re-balancing list covering a lot of different sectors,” she said, declining to identify specific U.S. goods to be targeted. “That would be ready if we thought those measures would hit us. We hope not.”

The U.S. and EU are trying to preserve a fragile truce on trade after relations came under strain from Trump’s “America First” approach to foreign policy. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on foreign autos, and this year tasked the Commerce Department with studying whether imports threaten national security.