WASHINGTON -- U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer lashed out Tuesday against retaliatory tariffs imposed by the European Union, China and other World Trade Organization members, saying the U.S. would "take all necessary actions" to protect its interests.
Four days after the EU imposed tariffs on American motorcycles, bourbon, orange juice and other products in response to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, Lighthizer said there was no legal basis for the EU response.
Countries imposing retaliatory tariffs "falsely assert" that U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs are "safeguard" actions intended to protect U.S. producers from imports, he said in a statement. The U.S. tariffs were imposed under a national security threat, which is allowed under WTO rules.
"These retaliatory tariffs underscore the complete hypocrisy that governs so much of the global trading system," Lighthizer said. The EU, China and others claim to be champions of WTO rules, he said, "but their recent tariffs prove that they simply ignore WTO rules whenever doing so is convenient."
Asked what action the U.S. would take in response to the EU and other tariffs, a senior Trade Representative official said it likely would include WTO challenges. He declined to comment when asked whether the U.S. would impose retaliatory tariffs of its own.
President Donald Trump threatened Harley-Davidson on Tuesday with unspecified higher taxes over the motorcycle maker's decision to move some production out of the U.S. to its international facilities in response to EU motorcycle tariffs.