The European Union has urged the United States to revive trade talks rather than escalate a dispute over tariffs on metals and cars.
US President Donald Trump last week signed an order to impose duties on incoming steel and aluminium and threatened to levy a tax on EU cars if the European Union does not remove "horrific" tariffs and trade barriers on a range of goods..
European Council President Donald Tusk responded on Wednesday by urging Trump to "make trade, not war".
"When the president complains of too many tariffs between the EU and the US I can understand him. We are not happy either," Tusk, who chairs summits of EU leaders, told a news conference in Helsinki.
"That is the reason why a few years ago we started trade negotiations with the US. We should go back to these talks now. Make trade, not war, Mr President," he said.
Tusk was referring to planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks which were frozen after Trump's election victory in 2016.
The European Commission - which has drawn up a list of US products worth 2.8 billion euros ($A4.4 billion) on which it could impose tariffs if EU steel and aluminium is hit - also sought to be conciliatory.
"This is not a dispute between Europe and the United States as such," Commission vice president Jyrki Katainen told the European parliament.
"That's why the commission will concentrate on problem-solving, instead of provoking further problems."
Katainen said US business and both parties in the US Congress shared the EU's belief in trade guided by international rules.
"What we want to do is clear up this mess. I think there are good reasons why both sides will accept, at the end of the day, that we don't need, we don't want, a trade war. Instead we should concentrate on improving our trading conditions."
The EU disputes Trump's line on tariffs and his emphasis on cars, for which the US tariff, at 2.5 per cent, is lower than the EU's 10 per cent. For other products, US tariffs are higher, such as trucks at 25 per cent compared with an EU rate that can be as low as 10.