The EU's top trade official said the US failed today to provide full clarity on how Europe and Japan could be spared from Washington's controversial steel and aluminium tariffs, but said talks would continue next week.
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem made her statement after crunch talks with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in an effort to defuse a bitter row that many fear could turn into an all-out trade war.
President Donald Trump's announcement of duties of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminium has stung the European Union, along with other major partners including Japan, whose Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko also attended the talks in Brussels.
"As long-standing security partners of the United States, (the EU and Japan) underlined to ambassador Lighthizer their expectation that EU and Japanese exports to the US would be exempted from the application of higher tariffs," an EU statement said after the talks.
But after two-way talks with Lighthizer, Malmstroem tweeted: "No immediate clarity on the exact US procedure for exemption however, so discussions will continue next week."
Brussels has gone the furthest in fighting back against Washington's shock measures, loudly announcing a list of US products to hit with countermeasures if its exports are affected by the tariffs.
Lighthizer, a loyalist to Trump's "America First" mantra, made no official comment after the talks, but the three sides did agree on a series of next steps to address the oversupply worldwide of steel and other materials, mainly by China.
This progress was "unexpected" and a source of cautious optimism on solving the tariff row, an EU official said on condition of anonymity.
"If Trump wants his allies to demonstrate that they are united in tackling problems with China, this is precisely that," the source added.
Along with a huge range of steel products, the EU's hit list of flagship American products lined up for counter measures includes peanut butter, bourbon whiskey and denim jeans.
Complicating matters, Trump indicated that the sparing of Australia was linked to an unspecified "security agreement" outside of trade policy.
The EU exports around five billion euros' ($4 billion) worth of steel and a billion euros' worth of aluminium to the US each year, and the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, estimates Trump's tariffs could cost some 2.8 billion euros.
Brussels is also looking at "safeguard" measures to protect its industry -- restricting the bloc's imports of steel and aluminium to stop foreign supplies flooding the European market, which is allowed under World Trade Organization rules.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)