EU proposes retaliatory tariff of 25% against US goods


ThyssenKrupp AG's steel plant in Duisburg, Germany. Bloomberg

BRUSSELS: The European Union intends to target 2.8 billion euros ($3.5 billion) of U.S. goods ranging from T-shirts and whiskey to motorcycles and ladders should President Donald Trump go ahead with his plan to impose a 25 percent tariff on foreign steel.

The EU aims to apply a tit-for-tat levy on a range of consumer, agricultural and steel goods imported from the U.S., according to a list drawn up by the European Commission and obtained by Bloomberg News. 

The commission, the EU’s executive arm, discussed the measures with representatives of the bloc’s governments at a meeting on Monday evening in Brussels.

The EU’s retaliatory list targets imports from the U.S. of shirts, jeans, cosmetics, other consumer goods, motorbikes and pleasure boats worth around 1 billion euros; orange juice, bourbon whiskey, corn and other agricultural products totaling 951 million euros; and steel and other industrial products valued at 854 million euros.

Trump’s vow to curb U.S. imports of foreign steel has sparked opposition within his Republican Party and is based on a national-security argument that the EU dismisses. 

The White House threat risks provoking retaliation across the globe and a slew of complaints to the World Trade Organization, which has never ruled on a dispute involving trade restrictions justified on national-security grounds.

Growing Concerns

Europe has expressed growing concerns about Trump’s protectionist stance on international trade. The U.S. goods on which the EU intends to apply its own 25 percent tariff sends a political message to Washington about the potential domestic economic costs of making good on the president’s threat.

Paul Ryan, Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, comes from the same state -- Wisconsin -- where motorbike maker Harley-Davidson Inc. is based. 

Earlier this week, Ryan said he was “extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war” and urged Trump to drop his steel-tariff plan.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his leadership team are due to discuss the retaliation proposal at a meeting on Wednesday. 

The commission is also weighing filing a complaint to the WTO against the U.S. and introducing “safeguard” measures to prevent steel shipments from other parts of the world to America from being diverted to the European market and flooding it. - Bloomberg
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