But they appeared to win no quick concessions.
Malmstrom said she would discuss the issue at a long-planned meeting on Saturday with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his Japanese counterpart Hiroshige Seko, noting that it was "not crystal clear" what Trump had decided Thursday.
BRUSSELS, March 9 (Reuters) - The European Union expects to be excluded from USA steel and aluminium tariffs but will go to the World Trade Organization to impose its own measures if Washington presses ahead, EU officials said on Friday.
"If they try to make an exemption for one of our member states, it means the European Union as a whole", he said, adding that the European Union was still trying to convince the United States that tariffs were a bad idea.
European industry associations called on Malmstrom to respond if the EU was subjected to the tariffs, saying they would hit the steel and aluminium sectors hard. The EU wants to find out exactly what mandate he has and precisely what conditions allow exemptions, but it is ruling out any negotiations for USA market access. "He is committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship".
Mr Trump has linked this to a new security agreement between the U.S. and Australia, which already have close military ties. "Our government will discuss with USA authorities the possibility exempting Argentinian exports of both products from the tariffs".
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At that time, the European Union compiled a list of items for retaliatory tariffs that included steel products, but also orange juice, apples, sunglasses, knitwear, motor boats and photocopying machines.
European steel and aluminium associations warn that United States tariffs could cost their sectors thousands of jobs. "We must also avoid actions on our part in this regard", added Dombrovskis.
The EU considers itself to be caught in the crossfire of this particular trade dispute, in which Trump has mainly singled out China for being unfair in its commercial deals.
"As a close security and trade partner of the United States, the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures", Malmstrom wrote on Twitter. It represented $2.2 billion in USA exports to the EU.
She said, "trade creates wealth, when it is based on exchange and cooperation" and added, referring indirectly to the surprise resignation of Trump's top economic adviser Gary Cohn Tuesday, that, "advocates for this in the USA administration are very important".
Other officials at the EU, by far the biggest trading partner of the United States by value, have warned it could take counter-measures including European tariffs on US oranges, tobacco and bourbon.