The EU said Wednesday it would hit flagship US products including peanut butter, orange juice and bourbon whiskey with counter measures if US President Donald Trump goes ahead with threatened steel and aluminium tariffs.
The blow by Brussels came hours after Trump’s trade offensive brought the resignation of his top economic advisor Gary Cohn, an influential ex-Goldman Sachs banker who fiercely opposed the measures.
EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said a full-on transatlantic trade war was “not in anybody’s interests” — a stark contrast from Trump, who last week declared trade wars were “good and easy to win”.
“A trade war has no winners,” Sweden’s Malmstroem told reporters after the European Commission, which handles trade matters for the bloc, discussed the tariffs.
“We should be very careful with that word… there are only losers in that, and that’s why we will respond in a proportionate and balanced way.”
The European Union is holding fire on its reprisals as Trump has yet to sign into effect his plan to set tariffs for what he calls unfair competition for US industry, but Malmstroem said a list of products had been drawn up including steel, industrial and agricultural items.
“Certain types of bourbon are on the list as are other items such as peanut butter, cranberries, orange juice,” Malmstroem said.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday threatened to hit big-name US brands such as Harley Davidson motorbikes and Levi’s jeans with import duties, prompting Trump to fire back a threat to tax cars from the EU.
Despite Juncker’s headline-grabbing threat to iconic US brands, the EU’s hitlist does not mention specific businesses.
– ‘Thousands of jobs’ –
Malmstroem said the EU was still trying to persuade Washington not to go ahead with the tariffs, which she said would threaten “thousands of European jobs”.
The EU is also looking at “safeguard” measures to protect its industry — restricting the bloc’s imports of steel and aluminium to stop foreign supplies flooding the European market, which is allowed under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
Trump, elected on a promise to roll back the effects of globalisation on the US economy with an “America First” platform, said Thursday he planned to impose 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium.
Juncker, who on Wednesday met Lakshmi Mittal, the boss of the world’s top steelmaker ArcelorMittal, said last week the EU would “react firmly” to protect European industry.
Europe exports around five billion euros’ ($4 billion) worth of steel and a billion euros’ worth of aluminium to the US each year, and the commission estimates Trump’s tariffs could cost some 2.8 billion euros.
As well as making it harder for European metal to find buyers in the US, tariffs could also mean other foreign producers redirect their output to the EU, pushing the market there down.
Brussels wants to maximise the political impact of its reprisals on the US while minimising the impact of a trade war on European consumers.
European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen told AFP on Friday the bloc could form a “coalition of like-minded countries” to file a complaint at the WTO, though this procedure usually takes around two years.
Iran and US trade barbs after drone incident and ahead of new sanctions
The United States on Monday was due to tighten sanctions on Iran as the two countries traded barbs in a tense standoff sparked by Washington's withdrawal from a nuclear deal.
Both nations say they want to avoid going to war, but tensions have spiralled as a series of incidents, including attacks on tankers and the shooting down of a US drone by Iran in the Gulf, raised fears of an unintended slide towards conflict.
On Sunday, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said a US-made MQ9 Reaper "spy drone" -- also widely used for carrying out military strikes -- had encroached his country's airspace on May 26.
John Oliver warns Trump didn’t have an ‘Ebenezer Scrooge moment’ deciding to be ‘good’ — he’s still Trump
The best thing you can say about Donald Trump is that he "maybe hasn't eaten a dolphin before," John Oliver joked on his Sunday episode of "Last Week Tonight."
Oliver warned people that while Trump had a "change of heart" about Iran it was only about Iran. "He didn't have an Ebenezer Scrooge moment, threw open a window and yelled, 'I'm going to be good from now on!'" the host explained. "No, he just didn't bomb some people."
As Fox News explained, the drown that Iran shot down was not simply one from Amazon. Oliver said it wasn't like Trump said, "Alexa, send a drone to surveil Iran." According to Fox's genius analysis, those drones cost actual money.
Donald Trump’s biggest regret is choosing Jeff Sessions as his attorney general
In an interview that aired on Sunday, President Donald Trump told "Meet the Press" that his biggest regret is choosing Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general.
"If you could have one do-over as president, what would it be?" NBC host Chuck Todd asked Trump during their interview.
This article first appeared at Salon.com.After the president replied that his do over would involve "personnel," he elaborated that "I would say if I had one do over, it would be, I would not have appointed Jeff Sessions to be attorney general." When Todd asked Trump to clarify if he thought appointing Sessions was his "worst mistake," the president reiterated "yeah, that was the biggest mistake." He added that Sessions is "very talented" but was cut off by a new line of questioning from Todd before he could elaborate.