The White House has said that U.S. President Donald Trump could offer temporary exemptions from import tariffs for steel and aluminium for Canada, Mexico and a clutch of other countries.
"We are anxiously awaiting the final outcome.... One could say that it is good news, in a sense, in that there are opportunities to avoid damages," Katainen told a news conference in Brussels.
Katainen said that he had read that the United States was considering exemptions for NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico, but also the United Kingdom.
"If they try to make an exemption for one of our member states, it means the EU as a whole," he said, adding that the EU was still trying to convince the United States that tariffs were a bad idea.
"We don't need to go to the 1930s. It's enough to go to the beginning of the 2000s when the U.S. authorities imposed steel tariffs for Europe. It meant in practice that in the U.S. they lost thousands and thousands of jobs," Katainen said.
(Reporting by Huw Jones and Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)