11:12 GMT +322 April 2019
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    A man walks near US and European Union flags at the EU headquarters on May 15, 2017 in Brussels

    EU to Defend Interests if Attacked, Doesn't Want Trade War With US - Paris

    © AFP 2019 / JOHN THYS
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    After the US imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum in late March, the EU was granted temporary exemption which is due to expire on June 1, however, the bloc insisted that it should be permanently exempted from Washington's new tariffs.

    "We French and Europeans don't want a trade war. But if we're attacked, we will have to defend our interests," French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday.

    The day before, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom stated that it was unrealistic that the US decided to refrain from applying tariffs to the goods from the bloc after the temporary exemption expires. Instead, Washington is likely to impose a cap on the exports from the EU, according to the bloc's trade chief.

    READ MORE: EU Trying to Develop Options Other Than Just Relying on US — Professor

    The tariff row has already put the US and its transatlantic partner on the brink of a trade war, with the EU threatening to tax import from the US in response. The bloc's leaders, earlier in May, reiterated their call for the EU's permanent exemption from the duties, which they criticized as an act of protectionism by the US administration. However, the US Trade Secretary Wilbur Ross rejected the EU demands for a full exemption from the US tariffs.

    In March, the United States introduced a 25-percent tariff on imported steel and a 10-percent tariff on imported aluminum. A number of countries as well as the European Union were exempted first until May 1 and then for one more month until June 1.

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