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Trump threatens tariff on European cars

22 June, 2018, 20:55 | Author: Lawrence Cooper
  • US President Donald Trump

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

Trump and Peter Navarro, one of his top trade advisers, have long believed that the European Union has an unfair tariff on US exports while the USA government makes it relatively easy for other countries to send their cars here.

European Union countries retaliatory trade tariffs on a list of United States products, agreed in response to USA tariff hikes on steel and aluminium imports from Canada, the EU, and Mexico, will come into force on Friday, the European Commission announced on Wednesday.

"By linking the threatened imposition of USA tariffs to European Union tariffs imposed on US autos, the President has both short-circuited the 232 process and conclusively undercut the stated national security rationale of that investigation", said Daniel Price, a former senior economic adviser to President George W. Bush. Germany's top automakers favor ending all import tariffs for cars between the European Union and the USA, the Wall Street Journal reported June 20.

"Needless to say, it is in full respect of EU and [World Trade Organization] rules", said European Commission spokesperson Alexander Winterstein.

"We oppose the act of extreme pressure and blackmail by swinging the big stick of trade protectionism", a China's Commerce Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

"The United States' decision to impose tariffs on Europe goes against that".

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who has said the bloc would target "Harley-Davidson, bourbon and Levi's jeans", said on Thursday the USA decision "goes against all logic and history".

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John Murphy, a senior vice president at the US Chamber of Commerce, estimates that $US75 billion in US products will be subject to new foreign tariffs by the end of the first week of July. At a meeting with auto makers at the White House on May 11, Trump told them he was planning to impose tariffs of 20% or 25% on some imported vehicles and sharply criticised Germany's automotive trade surplus with the US.

Canada has announced it will impose retaliatory tariffs on C$16.6 billion (RM50 billion) worth of USA exports from July 1.

Trump has repeatedly singled out German automotive imports to the United States for criticism.

Calling the European Union response proportionate and in line with World Trade Organisation rules, she said that they would be removed if Washington removed its metal tariffs. Trump praised Mexico's approach to combating illegal immigration, and even said that Mexico's reliance on the U.S.as an export market was acceptable.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, who opposes the auto tariffs, did the math for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at a hearing this month.

The U.S. already taxes imports of European cars at a rate of 2.5 percent.

China is "fully prepared" to respond to any new list of USA tariffs, according to a commerce ministry spokesman, who said the nation will use a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures.

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