EU makes good on threat to tax $3.2B in U.S. exports

EU makes good on threat to tax $3.2B in U.S. exports

June 22 (UPI) — The European Union followed through Friday with new tariffs on more than $3 billion worth of imports from the United States, a response to steel and aluminum taxes set by President Donald Trump.

The 28-member bloc imposed a 25 percent tariff on about 200 American products, including steel, aluminum, corn, rice, orange juice, cigarettes, peanuts, cigars, T-shirts, cosmetics and clothing. A 10 percent tariff was also slapped on U.S.-made playing cards.

A 50 percent duty was leveraged on other select items like dishwashing machines, certain seagoing vessels and umbrellas.

All told, the new duties impact about $3.2 billion worth of U.S. exports.

The alliance threatened earlier this week to impose the penalties, which answer recent U.S. tariffs on steel (25 percent) and aluminum (10 percent) imported from EU nations, Canada and Mexico. The fiscal penalties are part of the Trump administration’s “America first” trade policy. The president has also said they serve national security interests.

Speaking to Irish Parliament late Thursday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Europe needs to “stand firm” for rules and values.

“This is what we are doing on climate change or on nuclear weapons in Iran,” Juncker said. “We made a commitment because it is good for us — and good for the world — and we will stick to those commitments.”

Juncker said the European Union needs to uphold the same commitments on trade.

“The trade that we believe in is built on rules, trust and reliable partnership,” he said. “The United States’ decision to impose tariffs on Europe goes against that. In fact, it goes against all logic and history.

“Our response must be clear but measured. We will do what we have to do to rebalance and safeguard.”

Wednesday, Cecilia Malmström, EU commissioner for trade, said although the bloc didn’t want to tax the United States, they had no choice.

Malmström said the bloc will remove its tariffs if the United States rescinds the duties on metals.

The European Union has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization saying the Trump administration tariffs are “illegal”. The bloc also threatened a second round of tariffs on an additional $4.3 billion in U.S. products if the dispute isn’t resolved.

Canada has also threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs on $12.5 billion worth of U.S. exports, starting July 1. Mexico has taxed U.S. products like pork, steel, cheese and whiskey.

At the G7 summit in Canada this month, Trump said the United States has been abused on trade for years.

“It’s going to change. Tariffs will come way down,” Trump said. “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing and that ends.”