European Union to impose countertariffs on U.S. products as of Friday

Sean Reid
June 22, 2018

The European Union (EU) has introduced retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods as a top official launched a fresh attack on President Donald Trump's trade policy. "Our response will have to be proportionate, reasonable and intelligent".

"The rules of worldwide trade, which we have developed. with our American partners, can not be violated without a reaction from our side", Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said.

On Thursday, Indian imposed tariffs on 29 U.S. goods worth $ 238 million as a countermeasure. It is a $241 million measure that matches the amount of steel and aluminum import duty expected to be collected from India by the United States after the Trump administration imposed the measures earlier this year. Europeans claim that breaks global trade rules.

The spat is part of a wider tussle over global trade.

The EU put some 180 types of products on its tariffs list, from agricultural products like orange and cranberry juice to steel and aluminium items to manufactured goods, such as makeup, clothes, and boats.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the USA ambassador to Germany has been in talks with German auto makers during which the idea was pitched to end vehicle tariffs between the US and the European Union. India and Turkey have already targeted United States products, ranging from rice to autos to sunscreen. The EU does not rely on the a market for its steel exports as much as Canada or Mexico, which are also being hit by the USA tariffs and stand to lose more.

"We are already beginning to see some increased regulatory scrutiny against US companies operating in the market, whether it is increased Customs enforcement, local emissions inspections at our companies' factories or stricter enforcement of the advertising law", said Mr Jake Parker, vice-president of China operations for the US-China Business Council in Beijing.

However, many lawmakers have expressed concerns that the tariffs will escalate into a trade war that will ultimately hurt American interests. The higher tariffs had previously been registered with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Mr Trump ran for the presidency on a vow to topple seven decades of American policy that had favoured ever-freer trade among nations.

A trade war is brewing between the world superpowers, US and China and this could have dire economic consequences, not just for the two countries but globally too.

The U.S. tariffs hit some $7.5 billion of European products; the EU says that today's measures target almost half that figure, and that it plans to impose a slightly larger block of tariffs later - either in three years, or if/when the WTO rules in its favor.

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