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EU retaliatory tariffs on raft of US goods come into force

General view of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, one of a number of US products set to be affected as European Union's retaliatory tariffs come into force today. Picture by Dominic Lipinski, Press Association


The European Union is enforcing tariffs on $3.4 billion (£2.5bn) of US products in retaliation over duties the Trump administration has put on European steel and aluminium.

The goods targeted include typical American products such as bourbon, peanut butter and orange juice, in a way that seems designed to create political pressure on President Donald Trump and senior US politicians.

European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein said: "This response by the European Union is adequate, it is proportionate and it is reasonable. Needless to say, it is in full respect of EU and WTO rules."

Mr Trump imposed tariffs of 25 per cent on EU steel and 10 per cent on aluminium on June 1. Europeans claim that breaks global trade rules.

The spat is part of a wider tussle over global trade. In two weeks, the US will start taxing $34bn (£25.6bn) of Chinese goods.

Beijing has vowed to immediately retaliate with its own tariffs on US soybeans and other farm products, in a direct shot at Mr Trump's supporters in America's heartland.

India and Turkey have already targeted US products, ranging from rice to cars to sunscreen.

Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU's trade commissioner, acknowledged that the EU had targeted some key American imports for tariffs, like Harley-Davidson motorcycles and bourbon, to "make noise" and put pressure on US leaders.

John Murphy, a senior vice president at the US Chamber of Commerce, estimates that $75bn (£56bn) in US products will be subject to new foreign tariffs by the end of the first week of July.

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

He said a succession of poorly negotiated accords – including the North American Free Trade Agreement and the pact that admitted China into the World Trade Organisation – put American manufacturers at an unfair disadvantage and destroyed millions of US factory jobs.

He pledged to impose tariffs on imports from countries he said had exploited the US.

Late last month, he infuriated US allies, from the EU to Canada and Mexico, by imposing tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10% on aluminium.

The president justified the move by saying imported metals threatened America's national security, a dubious justification that countries have used rarely because it can be so easily abused.

He is threatening to impose another national security-based tariff on imports of cars, lorries and car parts.

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