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EU calls for permanent exemption from US tariffs on steel, aluminum

European Union leaders criticized the tariffs imposed by the U.S. on global imports of steel and aluminum and demanded that the bloc be permanently exempted from President Donald Trump's trade action.

In a joint statement, EU leaders meeting at a summit in Brussels said Washington's trade action could not be justified on national security grounds, adding that "sector-wide protection in the U.S. is an inappropriate remedy for the real problems of overcapacity" in steel and aluminum.

"[The European Council] takes note that shipments of steel and aluminium from the European Union have been temporarily exempted from such measures, and calls for that exemption to be made permanent," the leaders said.

On March 22, the White House confirmed that EU member states, along with Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea will be excluded from the tariffs pending ongoing talks on how to address global excess capacity in steel and aluminum.

The White House said those countries will not be subject to tariffs until May 1 and Trump is expected to decide by then whether the exemption will be continued.

The EU previously threatened retaliatory tariffs of 25% on certain products exported by the U.S., including peanut butter, shirts, jeans and motorcycles.

The bloc's leaders said in their joint statement that they supported steps taken by the European Commission to respond to the U.S. trade action "as appropriate and in a proportionate manner."

However, they also expressed support for a dialogue on trade issues as they renewed their "commitment to strong transatlantic relations as a cornerstone of the security and prosperity of both the United States and the European Union."