The EU and Japan held crunch talks with their USA counterparts in Brussels on Saturday hoping to get "clarity" on President Donald Trump's controversial new steel and aluminium tariffs.
U.S. President Donald Trump set import tariffs on Thursday of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum but exempted Canada and Mexico and offered the possibility of excluding other allies, backtracking from an earlier stance. Mr Seko said he believed there was still time for Japan to secure an exemption.
The EU exports around five billion euros' ($4 billion) worth of steel and a billion euros' worth of aluminium to the U.S. each year, and the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, estimates Trump's tariffs could cost some 2.8 billion euros.
"We are an ally, not a threat", Katainen said.
Brussels has prepared a list of United States products to hit with countermeasures if its exports are affected by the tariffs, but says it hopes to join Canada and Mexico in being exempted.
Malmstroem said the real problem is an oversupply of steel on global markets, and she rejected Trump's assertion that the tariffs are needed to protect US national security, especially when most European Union countries are members of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
"We are an ally, not a threat", he said, rejecting any hint that the bloc's exports threatened USA national security - Trump's justification for imposing the tariffs.
Malmstroem said negotiations would continue next week, after crunch talks with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer failed to defuse a bitter row that many fear could turn into an all-out trade war. "Now we are talking about unilateral action against global rules, and we want to sort it out before it really becomes a problem".
The European Union expects to be excluded from US steel and aluminum tariffs but will go to the World Trade Organization to impose its own measures if Washington presses ahead, EU officials said yesterday.
It has already started monitoring incoming metal flows to see whether a surge occurs.
Katainen said Brussels wanted "clarity" on how the tariffs will be implemented and was ready to enforce retaliatory measures to protect European interests if needed.
European Union, Japanese and USA trade officials confer at EU headquarters in Brussels, March 10, 2018.
Japan, he said, would stick to WTO rules in terms of taking measures.