March 23, 2018 / 1:57 PM / 5 months ago

Russia eyes restrictions on U.S. imports in response to tariffs

MOSCOW/GENEVA, Russia (Reuters) - Russia will likely prepare a list of restrictions on imported products from the United States in response to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium, Moscow’s trade ministry said on Friday, according to Interfax news agency.

The announcement came after China threatened to retaliate to U.S. President Donald Trump’s measures, stoking fears of a looming global trade war.

“We will prepare our position, submit it to the Economy Ministry and apply to the WTO (the World Trade Organization),” Russia’s Deputy Trade Minister, Viktor Yevtukhov, said, according to Interfax.

“We will probably prepare proposals on the response measures. Restrictions against the American goods. I think that all countries will follow this path,” Yevtukhov added.

The United States has said the tariffs are needed to protect its national security and therefore do not need to be cleared by the WTO. Many trade experts disagree saying they fall under the jurisdiction of the Geneva-based global trade body.

Russian steel and aluminium producers have been playing down the potential impact of the U.S. tariffs. But Russia’s Trade Ministry said there would be an impact.

Russian steel and aluminium producers may lose $2 billion and $1 billion, respectively, from the U.S. tariffs introduction, Yevtukhov said, citing preliminary estimates for the Trade Ministry. It was not clear whether he was referring to annual losses.

China’s commerce ministry said on Friday that the country was planning measures against up to $3 billion of U.S. imports to balance the steel and aluminium tariffs, with a list of 128 U.S. products that could be targeted.

Reporting by Polina Devitt, Tom Miles, Anastasia Lyrchikova and Polina Ivanova; writing by Polina Devitt; editing by Andrew Heavens

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