UE and French flags
1 June 2018

Tariffs: unjustified and unjustifiable decisions

Failing any new decision on the part of President Donald Trump, the additional tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium will apply from 1 June to US imports from Europe. President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has already made it clear that the EU intends to announce "countermeasures". France backs this defensive move by the European Commission to protect Europe's interests.

France deeply regrets the US authorities' application of additional tariffs/quotas on steel and aluminium imports from the EU.

These decisions are unjustified and unjustifiable: the steel industry is grappling with global overcapacity, but neither France nor the EU, which follow all of the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), are to blame for these problems.

These are also dangerous decisions. This uncooperative approach is jeopardising the stability of trade relations and will have negative consequences for growth and jobs in Europe and worldwide – without solving any of the structural problems hampering trade.

France was open to deepening ties on trade with the US, but only if the EU was treated like an ally, and exempted from these tariffs imposed on the grounds of national security. France does not want a trade war or for the situation to escalate, and is doing its utmost to prevent these measures from being applied – whilst defending its rights. The US decision to apply these measures regardless leaves no other choice but to react, in keeping with WTO rules.

The EU is taking a united, joint stance in its response to these unilateral measures. France backs this defensive move by the European Commission to protect Europe's interests:

  • a dispute settlement case will be brought to the WTO,
  • rebalancing measures will have to be imposed, in a proportionate and fully WTO-compatible manner,
  • the EU stands ready to take any necessary steps to protect its market from potential trade diversion into Europe.
A new national security investigation has also been opened by the US authorities into car and truck imports. France expresses grave concern on this matter too, and will closely monitor how the investigation unfolds and the compliance with WTO rules of any measures that may be adopted by the US.

France agrees with the US that unfair practices are plaguing world trade, particularly in the steel industry but also in other industrial sectors bearing on intellectual property. But France condemns the adoption of a unilateral approach that does not follow WTO rules which were approved by all of its members, including the US. France believes that the only approach capable of improving the trade environment and allowing a level playing field is a multilateral system grounded in rules, with the WTO at its centre.

The President of the Republic has stressed the urgent need to reform the WTO to enable an effective solution to be found to unfair practices in world trade, and France is ready to work in this sense with its partners – the US, China and Japan in particular.


Joint Declaration
Jean-Yves Le Drian, Bruno Le Maire and Peter Altmaier