Donald Trump trade tariffs: Europe threatens USA bikes, bourbon, Levi's jeans

Tuesday, 06 Mar, 2018

Six of the top 10 foreign suppliers of USA steel "are countries with whom the United States has mutual defense arrangements".

Both candidates in a March 13 House election in Pennsylvania have embraced the president's plans for tariffs.

The U.S. first became a net importer of steel in 1959, when steelworkers staged a 116-day strike, according to research by Michael O. Moore, a George Washington University economist. A concern for the European Union would be to deal with the fallout from the USA levy on the bloc's bloated steel industry.

President Donald Trump declared that he won't retreat from his plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports after House Speaker Paul Ryan rejected the plan, saying the USA economy could suffer.

A Commerce Ministry official said late Friday that Trump's plan to levy tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum would "seriously damage multilateral trade mechanisms represented by the World Trade Organization and will surely have huge impact on normal worldwide trade order".

Taking another jab at the EU, Trump tweeted about it again, this time suggesting that if the EU raises tariffs more, so will the U.S.

"Historically, whenever you have this type of trade protection that sparks a trade war, the impacts are quite dramatic", he said. European nations responded by raising their tariffs and the volume of world trade predictably slowed by 1934.

Navarro called it "a slippery slope" to target only some countries with increased tariffs while exempting others.

A U.S. official said on Friday possible exemptions would be considered case-by-case.

Navarro said the message to the world on USA trade practices is simple: "We're not going to take it anymore".

Navarro and Ross, who have advocated stronger trade policies to reduce US trade imbalances, went on Sunday US television news shows to try to contain the global fallout from Trump's announcement.

Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade, has told the BBC that Levi jeans and bourbon are on a list of potential goods that could be slapped with reprisal tariffs.

In response on Saturday, Trump threatened European automakers with a tax on imports if the European Union retaliates against the U.S.

The Mexican and Canadian ministers are likely to press Trump's trade envoy for more details on how their countries could be excluded from the blanket tariffs.

Ross said the proposed tariffs represent a fraction of 1 per cent of the USA economy so they would not have a great impact. "So, while it might effect an individual producer for a little while, overall it's not going to be much more than a rounding error", the commerce secretary said.

"China doesn't want a trade war with the United States", Mr Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the National People's Congress, said yesterday, on the eve of the parliament's annual session. "We are believers in free trade and any increase in input costs [from tariffs] works against WTO principles". "They will lead to the exact opposite outcome of the administration's stated objective, which is to protect American jobs".

In a tweet, Mr Trump said: "When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win". The world's remarkable trade wars have, in fact, not been easy to win for anybody, let alone the United States.