EU may target $3.5b of US imports for trade retaliation

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US President Mr Donald Trump told steel and aluminum company executives, summoned to the White House on Thursday, that US will order tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports next week for a long period of time.

Trump followed up the tariff announcements with tweets yesterday that boasted trade wars are easy to win and threatened to impose reciprocal taxes on trading partners. "They've been brutal to us".

Last year, Germany's automotive trade association said "the United States would be shooting itself in the foot by imposing tariffs or other trade barriers".

Mr. Trump should continue to make American producers more competitive in global markets through tax, regulatory, energy, and other pro-America policy changes that bring jobs and capital back to the United States. But Trump's tariffs wouldn't likely do much to solve that problem. They are afraid that high tariffs in U.S. would mean a crisis of overproduction - and subsequent drawing down - in European Union all of which will cause more unemployment, and of course falling profits.

The President's comments came just days after several European leaders reacted sharply to the President's tariff announcement.

European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker promised to go after imports of Harley-Davidson motorbikes, bourbon whisky and Levi's jeans.

"Instead of providing a solution, this move can only aggravate matters", his statement said.

Trump hopes the imposition of tariffs will help him to bring back jobs to the USA which he alleged to have been stolen by other countries that acted unfairly. "There should be no doubt about that in Washington".

Mr Trump has a history of criticising European Union trade policy and in January of this year he said had "a lot of problems" with how the trade bloc behaves. The tariffs on aluminum and steel and large tariffs on European automakers would have the biggest impact on Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, Turkey, and Japan, countries which the US has extremely close national security ties.

He has been particularly vocal in criticizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the US, Canada and Mexico are now renegotiating.

Trump stoked further fears of global turmoil on Friday by claiming "trade wars are good" and "easy to win".

"We've clearly heard from the Chinese" that soybeans "are definitely one of the largest things that could be targeted", said Jake Parker, vice president for China operations for the US-China Business Council. A BMW plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, employs 10,000 workers.

A spokesperson for New Zealand's aluminium smelter earlier said less than 2 percent of the aluminium produced at Tiwai Point was exported to the U.S., with most going to the Asia-Pacific market.