Sun, Mar 04, 2018 - Page 16 News List

EU targets US firms with measures for ‘trade war’

STABILITY:Katainen said Trump’s planned tariffs were the ‘wrong medicine’ and nobody should do anything that could hamper the world’s recovering economy


The EU is drawing up retaliatory measures against leading US brands, such as Levi’s and Harley-Davidson, after US President Donald Trump threatened a trade war with plans for tariffs on steel and aluminum, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday.

“We will not sit idly when European industry and jobs are threatened,” Juncker said on the sidelines of a conference in Hamburg, Germany.

“The EU is preparing import duties for US products including Harley-Davidson, Bourbon and Levi’s jeans,” Juncker’s spokeswoman quoted him as saying on Twitter.

However, European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said Trump still has a small chance to avoid a damaging global trade war and asked the US leader to reconsider his aims before he signed them into effect next week.

“We are very close to a fast-spreading trade war, and in this kind of war there are only victims, not winners,” Katainen said.

Katainen, who handles trade policy for the EU with European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom, said he understood that the US was seeking to take a stand against China, which has flooded the world with cheap steel.

“I understand the frustration, but the medicine the US administration is willing to use is not right,” the former Finnish prime minister said.

A “global trade war ... means in concrete terms unemployment, less economic growth and worse relations between trading partners,” Katainen said. “At a time when we have just come out of the most severe economic crisis in decades, nobody should do anything in order to harm the stability we have achieved.”

The EU would “form a coalition of like-minded countries and potentially take the US to the WTO court together,” he said.

These countries could include Japan, Canada, Turkey and Mexico, he added.

The EU’s targeting of bourbon whiskey and motorcycles had been expected and matches similar moves in 2003 during a “steel war” unleashed by the administration of then-US president George W. Bush.

At the time, the list included not just steel products, but also orange juice, apples, sunglasses, photocopiers and other goods.

The Bush administration backed down before the EU carried out its threat to impose the retaliatory measures.

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