Trade War: EU to Hit U.S. Motor Bike, Jeans Imports with Tariff Retaliation in Weeks

harley davidson
AP/Alan Diaz

The European Union (EU) will retaliate against moves by President Donald J. Trump’s to protect the domestic steel industry, introducing €2.8 billion (£2.5bn) of levies on U.S. key exports, designed to do maximum damage to iconic American brands.

At the end of last month, President Trump introduced levies on foreign steel and aluminium products, designed to save America’s rapidly declining smelting capability.

The industry has been hit by state-subsidised, artificially cheap Chinese products, and retaining it is critical for national security reasons and the defence industry.

The EU’s unelected European Commission promised a swift escalation last month, and after endorsing their response this week, commissioner Maros Sefcovic addressed a news conference Wednesday.

“The Commission expects to conclude the relevant procedure in coordination with member states before the end of June so that the new duties start applying in July,” he said, according to Reuters.

That also plan covers duties ranging between 10 and 50 per cent on an extra 3.6 billion euros of U.S. imports in March 2021, or potentially sooner, if the World Trade Organization rules President Trump’s actions were against their rules.

American products on the EU’s list include orange juice, bourbon, denim jeans, motorcycles, and an array of steel products.

They are designed to hit U.S. prestige and damage iconic brands and firms, such as Harley Davison bikes, Levi’s jeans, Tropicana Juice, and Jim Beam whiskey.

The unelected European Commission also launched a legal challenge against the U.S. tariffs at the World Trade Organization on Friday last week.

When President Trump introduced his tariffs at the beginning of the month, representatives of France and Germany immediately claimed they were “illegal”.

People in the Trump administration have previously pointed out that the EU is itself a protectionist bloc, placing massive tariffs on many foreign goods, including sugar and coffee, to guard domestic industries.

The EU also taxes 10 per cent on car imports, compared to 2.5 per cent charged by the U.S.

The U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last year attacked the EU’s “extreme protectionism” as President Trump planned the metal tariffs.

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