Russia Is Preparing Response for U.S. Steel, Aluminum Tariffs: Deputy Minister

The Russian government is preparing a response to the U.S. decision to impose duties on steel and aluminum, Deputy Economic Development Minister Alexei Gruzdev said on Monday, according to TASS.

“Russia is closely following and fully participating in all these processes. We will form our official estimate and make relevant statements. I am not authorized to anticipate the government’s decisions, but they are being prepared,” he said when talking to the students of the Ural Federal University.

The United States’ new import tariff duties came into force on March 23. Russia, like a number of other countries, said it may challenge the decision before the World Trade Organization (WTO). Russia’s Industry and Trade Ministry estimates that the damage to Russian companies from the U.S. customs duties will amount to at least $3 billion.

The Russian trade mission in the United States has actually closed up its operations and this will adversely affect trade and economic ties between the countries, Gruzdev said.

“Certainly, this is challenging in terms of atmosphere, because functions were exercised through diplomatic missions, which include the trade mission also, when there was a need to help an entrepreneur from one country to find a partner in other country, assist with negotiations and give an expert opinion regarding the buildup of relations. Actual closing-up of activities of the trade mission in the U.S. will definitely exert influence from this standpoint,” the official said commenting on recent ousting of Russian diplomats from the U.S.

In a show of solidarity with London’s stance over the reported poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, the United States expelled 60 Russian diplomats on March 26, including Russia’s trade representative Alexander Stadnik. Three days later, Russia responded with tit-for-tat measures.

“I hope this race of non-market competition will end eventually and we will return to normal relations,” Gruzdev said.