In Brief

EU to impose tit-for-tat tariffs on US imports

Politically sensitive American exports such as jeans, motorbikes and bourbon whiskey will be targeted tomorrow

The EU will impose new tariffs on a number of high-profile US goods this Friday, in retaliation against what it calls Donald Trump’s “unilateral and unjustified” decision to hike duties on aluminium and steel.

The EU’s trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom confirmed that prestige American exports such as jeans, motorbikes and bourbon whiskey will be hit with a 25% import charge, while cranberries, orange juice, sweetcorn and peanut butter will also be targeted. There will even be a 10% tariff on playing cards.

Many of the products the EU has in its sights “are specifically chosen to have maximum political effect” says the BBC.

Bourbon whiskey is produced in Kentucky, the state of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, while orange juice is a key export for Florida, a swing state in the US elections.

The imposition of retaliatory tariffs by the EU “confirms a tit-for-tat dispute that could escalate into a full trade war, particularly if Trump carries out his threat to penalise European cars”, says Business Insider.

Canada has already announced it will impose retaliatory tariffs on $12.5 billion worth of US exports from 1 July, while Mexico put tariffs on American products ranging from steel to pork and bourbon two weeks ago.

As the prospect of all out-trade war between the world’s largest economies grows, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde warned it could lead to “losers on both sides” and have a "serious" impact on the world economy.

“Economists have warned the US metal tariffs could lead to higher metal costs, disrupt supply chains and even get passed on to US households,” the BBC reports.

Sky News says the US measures “have resulted in official complaints to the World Trade Organisation by those targeted, but such disputes have a habit of dragging on for months if not years”.

Unperturbed, on Sunday Trump raised the stakes in his game of economic brinkmanship with Beijing, threatening to raise tariffs on a further $150bn worth of Chinese goods.

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