European Union to begin counter trade tariffs against United States on Friday

EU countertariffs on a list of USA products would come into force on Friday, the European Commission said Wednesday.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the USA ambassador to Germany has been in talks with German vehicle makers during which the idea was pitched to end auto tariffs between the US and the European Union.

"We do not want to be in this position", EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement, adding that the "unilateral and unjustified" USA decision had left the EU with no choice.

Separately it is also pursuing the case with the World Trade Organisation, arguing that the White House's reasons for the tariffs - that the glut of steel and aluminium poses a security threat - are not valid.

The EU tit-for-tat tariffs will hit about 200 US products that include steel and aluminum, corn, rice, orange juice, cigarettes, peanuts, cigars, T-shirts, cosmetics and boats.

"We did not want to be in this position", EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said in a statement.

There is also a notable addition at the end of the long list of products - a 10% tariff on playing cards.

Blue jeans may be among the products that will be hit by retaliatory tariffs announced by the European Union against the United States.

Brussels first drew up the list in March when US President Donald Trump initially floated the idea of 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium.

The EU announced its response on Wednesday as the U.S. and China were locked in a war of words over a threat of an extension of tariffs.

President Trump insists his tariffs are needed to protect American workers and has said the European Union treats the United States "very unfairly".

Canada also promised retaliatory tariffs worth $12.8bn on USA products including steel, aluminium, whiskey and orange juice.