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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstroem speaks Wednesday in Brussels about a strategy to counter the United States' proposed plan to put tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Thursday, March 08, 2018 1:00 am

EU talks retaliation over tariffs

Considering tax on bourbon, steel, juice among other goods

LORNE COOK | Associated Press


President Donald Trump is considering a plan to offer Canada and Mexico a temporary exemption from new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, reversing his original insistence that the measures apply to U.S. allies as well, four administration officials familiar with the matter said.

The plan would give Canada and Mexico a 30-day exemption.

– Washington Post

BRUSSELS – The European Union says it's ready to retaliate against the U.S. over President Donald Trump's proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum – with countermeasures against iconic U.S. products like Harley Davidson motorcycles, Levi's jeans and bourbon.

The EU threat and Trump's insistence that the tariffs will go ahead escalate the risk of a trade war, in which countries try to punish each other by increasing taxes on traded goods. In the end, that tends to hurt all sides as exporting producers suffer but so do consumers who face higher costs, experts say.

There was hope free trade proponents in the White House, like economic adviser Gary Cohn, would dissuade Trump from going ahead with the tariffs. But Cohn's resignation Tuesday dealt a blow to that expectation. Trump is expected to sign the tariffs this week.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said Wednesday that the EU is circulating among member states a list of U.S. goods to target with tariffs so that it can respond as quickly as possible.

The list so far includes U.S. steel and agricultural products, as well as other products such as bourbon, peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice.

She did not say what level of tariffs the EU would set, leaving it unclear what the economic impact would be.

“This is basically a stupid process, the fact that we have to do this. But we have to do it,” EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Friday. “We can also do stupid.”

The EU considers itself to be caught in the crossfire of this particular trade dispute, in which Trump has mainly singled out China for being unfair in its commercial deals.