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EU trade chief says ready to retaliate if U.S. imposes auto tariffs

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EU trade chief says ready to retaliate if U.S. imposes auto tariffs

EU trade chief says ready to retaliate if U.S. imposes auto tariffs
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Wednesday that the EU has a list of potential retaliation targets ready in case U.S. President Donald Trump imposes auto tariffs on EU member states.

Malmstrom told reporters after a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that the two did not speak specifically about auto tariffs but focused instead on regulatory cooperation issues and ways to enable EU countries to import more American soybeans and liquefied natural gas.

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Malmstrom did not specify the U.S. products on which the EU would levy retaliatory tariffs, as consultations would need to take place with member states. But she said the list could include "all kinds" of products.

"It could be cars, it could be agriculture, it could be industrial products, it could be everything. And we will do that, but hope we don't have to get to that situation."

Trump administration officials on Tuesday said the president's trade team made no decisions on how to proceed with new recommendations from the Commerce Department on whether to impose tariffs on autos and auto parts to protect the U.S. industry on national security grounds. The contents of the recommendations have not been disclosed.

Malmstrom said that the EU is willing to negotiate a limited trade deal on industrial goods, including autos, that seeks to bring tariff rates to zero for both the United States and Europe, but the scope of these talks cannot be defined until early next year, when the USTR completes its consultation process with Congress and the EU receives a negotiating mandate from member states.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci)

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