EU says it will respond if U.S. imposes punitive steel measures

President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker arrives for the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg

HAMBURG (Reuters) – The European Union will respond if the United States imposes punitive tariffs on steel, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday at the G20 summit in Hamburg.

“Should the U.S. introduce tariffs on European steel imports, Europe is ready to react immediately and adequately,” Juncker told reporters.

In a dig at U.S. President Donald Trump, he said that a new EU-Japan trade deal signed on Thursday showed that Europeans were not putting up “protectionist walls”.

Juncker and Commission officials declined to give details on how the EU executive would respond if Washington imposed new quotas or tariffs on steel – measures that European leaders say would be unjustified and penalize U.S. allies in response to oversupply in world steel markets that is largely created in China.

A Commission spokeswoman said: “We should rather have a talk about the overcapacity in steel than about protectionist measures against steel imports from other parts of the world.”

(Reporting by Noah Barkin in Hamburg and Elizabeth Miles and Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; editing by David Stamp)