EU's trade chief questions rationale of Trump steel measures

European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstroem, center, meets with Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko and U.S. Trade

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's trade chief is questioning the rationale of U.S. President Donald Trump in threatening to impose tariffs on EU exports of steel and aluminum, and says his move is undermining longstanding trans-Atlantic ties.

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told the EU legislature early Wednesday that while the 28-nation EU would continue to seek exemption from the measure that could kick in next week, it will prepare countermeasures to equally hit U.S. exports.

Trump has said that the import tariffs are necessary on national security grounds, but Malmstrom insisted this is a ruse and said that "we suspect that the U.S. move is effectively not based on security considerations but an economic safeguard measure in disguise."