The European Union could soon slap retaliatory tariffs worth around US$20 billion worth of US goods coming into the bloc should talks between the two parties this week fail.
Speaking with a Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, the EU's trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom said that the EU aims to settle with the US, but if it doesn't work out, it is willing to hit back at the punitive tariffs placed on certain exports by the Trump administration.
"We hope that it doesn’t come to that and that we can find a solution. If not, the EU Commission is preparing a rather long list of many of American goods. It would be around $20 billion," she said.
When asked if the EU would target specific US states, "No, now it's more general goods such as agricultural products, machinery, high-tech products and other things," she said.
The news corresponds with European Commission president, Jean Claude Juncker's travel to Washington to negotiate with the Trump administration to diffuse the tensions between the two sides over Trump's trade sanctions.
According to the Business Insider, Juncker wants to lobby for eliminating tariffs levied on European automobiles.
The US Commerce Department is investigating auto imports, as Trump has previously threatened massive tariffs on imported cars. On Friday, the U.S. President threatened to place tariffs on nearly US$505 billion of goods imported from China, as he tweeted on Tuesday to say that tariffs are "the greatest!"
"Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that — and everybody’s talking! Remember, we are the “piggy bank” that’s being robbed. All will be Great!" — he tweeted.
Several hours later, however, he appeared to strike a slightly more conciliatory tone when tweeting about Juncker's upcoming visit.
"The European Union is coming to Washington tomorrow to negotiate a deal on Trade. I have an idea for them. Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers, and Subsidies! That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade! Hope they do it, we are ready - but they won’t!"
Malmstrom, however, said she does not believe Trump and Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin's offer will help in completely removing trade sanctions, according to Reuters.
She spoke of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
"We tried earlier in TTIP negotiations to make the United States loosen those laws. It was completely impossible. They did not move a millimeter," she said.
"Basically, I'm an optimistic person, but heading into this I'm moderately optimistic. But one must always try," Malmstrom, who is a member of the EU delegation heading to Washington noted.