EU slaps tariffs on iconic US products as trade war erupts

EU slaps tariffs on iconic US products as trade war erupts

EU slaps tariffs on iconic US products as trade war erupts

The European Union slapped revenge tariffs on iconic U.S. products including bourbon, jeans and motorcycles on June 22 in its opening salvo in a trade war with President Donald Trump.

The tariffs, which took effect early on June 22 according to the EU’s official journal, will further fuel jitters on world stock markets that are already alarmed by trade tensions between the United States and China.

Customs agents across the Europe’s colossal market of 500 million people will now impose the duty, hiking prices on U.S.-made products in supermarkets and across factory floors.

Brussels imposed the raft of duties on U.S. products worth 2.8 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in a tit-for-tat response to Trump’s decision to slap stiff tariffs on European steel and aluminum exports.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said this week that the 28-nation bloc was “left with no other choice” but to impose tariffs of its own after the “unilateral and unjustified decision of the U.S.”

Together with U.S. tariffs against Mexico and Canada, the trade battles have raised the specter of a global trade war, spooking financial markets that fear major consequences to the global economy.

The list does not specifically name brands but European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker spelled out in March that the bloc would target “Harley-Davidson, bourbon and Levi’s jeans.”

Cranberries, cranberry juice, orange juice, sweetcorn and peanut butter are among the other food products targeted.

The list also hits clothing along with bed linen and men’s leather footwear, eye make-up and lipsticks, plus a host of steel products.

Juncker said on June 21 that the U.S. decision to impose tariffs “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,” he said.

Turkey's countermeasures

Meanwhile, Turkey started implementing retaliatory tariffs worth $266.5 million against the United States on June 21 as well over “ill-advised” and “unsupportable” additional steel tariffs enacted by Washington, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has said.

Turkey’s tariffs will be imposed on imports of U.S. coal, paper, walnuts/almonds, tobacco, unprocessed rice, whisky, automobiles, cosmetics, machinery equipment and petrochemical products.

“The total tariff burden today being imposed by Turkey on the U.S. is commensurate with the additional costs Turkey faces due to the tariffs imposed on it by the U.S.,” Zeybekci said in a statement on June 21ç

“They are proportional, measured and designed to protect Turkey’s interests, while encouraging dialogue.”

Transatlantic ties

Transatlantic ties are at their lowest level for many years due to rows over a host of issues including the tariffs, the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal and the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Relations plumbed new depths at the recent G-7 summit when Trump abruptly rejected the joint statement and bitterly insulted his Canadian host, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trump claimed America had been obliged to levy the metals tariffs as it has been exploited as the world’s “piggy bank”. He is also targeting EU auto imports with a U.S. probe now underway.