EU: If Trump targets European cars, $39 billion in US goods will be on block’s hit list
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has warned that EU will retaliate with extra duties on €35 billion ($39.1 billion) worth of US goods if Washington imposes punitive tariffs on European-made cars.
“We will not accept any managed trade, quotas or voluntary export restraints and, if there were to be tariffs, we would have a rebalancing list,” the European Union’s trade chief told a committee of the European Parliament.
She added: “It is already basically prepared, worth 35 billion euros. I do hope we do not have to use that one.”
The announcement follows President Donald Trump’s threats last year of possible tariffs on European cars coming to the US. He asked the Commerce Department to examine whether such imports were threats to national security, the reason given for imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The European commission vowed to retaliate by taxing $20 billion worth of US imports to the bloc, if the measure was implemented.
In May, Trump decided to delay the promised duties of 25 percent on European and Japanese cars by up to 180 days in an attempt to clinch an effective trade deal with its partners. The six-month delay period ends in mid-November.
“We welcome the decision by the US not to impose duties on cars and car parts, but of course the very notion that European cars can be a national security threat to the US is absurd,” Malmstrom said, adding that trade talks with the US had produced mixed results.
“We have still not started those negotiations. The US is not ready to start them if agriculture is not included, which is a red line for us. So for the moment, nothing happens here,” the EU trade chief said.
Trump has refused the EU offer to scrap levies on mutual imports of vehicles, saying the proposal is “not good enough” while being a one-sided deal favoring Europe. He also compared the EU to China in what he described as their unfair trade practices that have led to America’s growing trade deficit.
Under the current trade agreement, Washington levies a 25 percent tariff on light trucks and pickups, and 2.5 percent on smaller vehicles from Europe, while Brussels imposes a 10 percent tariff on all cars imported from the US.