The European Union has slapped tariffs on some $3.2bn(£2.4bn) worth of US goods, in retaliation for tariffs the Trump administration imposed on imported steel and aluminium earlier this month.
The EU announced a 25 per cent tariff on American products such as whiskey, tobacco, Harley Davidson motorcycles and peanut butter on Friday. They leveraged another 50 per cent tax on select items such as footwear, some types of clothing, and washing machines, according to the BBC.
The tariffs come weeks after the Trump administration implemented a 25 per cent tariff on steel and 10 per cent tariff on aluminium, affecting trade partners like Canada, Mexico, and the EU. Donald Trump threatened additional taxes on European cars if the EU chose to retaliate.
Speaking to the Irish Parliament on Thursday, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU would “do what we have to do to rebalance and safeguard” against the US tariffs.
“It goes against all logic and history,” he said of the US taxes. “Our response must be clear but measured.”
The statement echoed the words of EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström, who said on Wednesday that the EU was “left with no other choice” than to impose retaliatory measures.
The EU’s tariffs target products primarily made in Republican states, hoping to threaten Mr Trump’s party in the run-up to the November midterm elections. They come after a tense showdown at the G7 summit, where Mr Trump refused to sign on to a joint communique with leaders of the world’s most advanced economies.
The EU has filed a case with the World Trade Organisation (WTO), claiming the Trump administration’s tariffs were “pure protectionist” and “illegal”. They also threatened a second round of tariffs on some $4.3bn worth of US products if the dispute was not resolved.
Mexico has already announced its own tariffs on US goods, and Canada’s tariffs on nearly $13bn of US products are set to take effect next month.
Mr Trump has imposed tariffs on other trade partners as well, slapping a 25 per cent tariff on $50bn worth of Chinese goods last week.
When Beijing announced plans to retaliate with penalties of its own, Mr Trump threatened to impose another $200bn worth of tariffs. The news sent the Dow tumbling by 400 points in early trading on Tuesday – its worst daily decline since April.
A CNN poll posted Thursday showed most Americans would rather maintain good relationships with allies than impose tariffs on foreign goods. Only a quarter of respondents said they would prioritise tariffs and protecting US industries over maintaining strong ties.