The EU Strikes Back! Trade War Gains Momentum as Retaliatory Measures Announced by Brussels
The trade war between Brussels and Washington is gaining momentum. Today, the European Commission has approved retaliatory measures for US tariffs. The measures will immediately affect about 200 US goods, with more restrictions looming.
Our correspondent in Europe Mikhail Antonov is reporting on the rift in the EU-US relations that might degrade into a gap.
The US exporters to the EU are going to lose €2.8 billion. The EU «motobourbon» will come into effect on Friday, meaning new tariffs on whiskey, motorcycles, jeans, orange juice and peanut butter.
Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Trade: «We did not want to be in this position. However, the unilateral and unjustified decision of the US to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the EU means that we are left with no other choice».
The US steel and aluminum tariffs will cost the EU €6.4 billion. If the US refuses to undo it, Europe might extend the list of goods subject to new tariffs to rebalance trade, which is unlikely to intimidate Trump but rather rouse him, since he seeks to iron out trade imbalance with Europe, primarily with Germany. He doesn't need the united Europe for this, but 28 countries to cultivate bilateral relations with them. Germany made mistakes, do not listen to Merkel, signals Trump. He knows where to hit so that it hurts the chancellor.
«Crime in Germany is up by 10% (officials do not want to report these crimes) since migrants were accepted. Other countries are even worse. Be smart, America!»
The German press responded that Trump lied, considering his words as an attempt to undermine Merkel's position before the EU summit, which is very sensitive for Germany. They accuse Trump of fueling the differences between the chancellor and Minister of Interior Seehofer over the migration control. Merkel is sluggishly defensive, while the European Commission is blunt about what the US President is driving at.
Angela Merkel: «The interior minister presented the crime statistics a short while ago and they speak for themselves. We are seeing a positive development».
Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President: «Trump won't remove Merkel. Even if she is, which is highly undesirable, it will be done by German voters, not Trump. Mr. Trump may govern the USA, he doesn’t govern Europe».
Officially, he doesn't, but, in fact, Europe is dancing to Trump's Twitter. Some do it voluntarily, but Germany obviously has no option but to obey. Merkel still hopes to protect the German automotive industry from the tariffs, which seems to be another contribution to her cookie jar of vain hopes.
Wilbur Ross, US Secretary of Commerce: «Following a conversation with President Trump, we've launched an investigation into whether autos and auto parts imported into the US pose a threat to national security. We'll study the negative impact of foreign competition on our domestic economy.»
The outcome of the investigation is quite predictable: German autos jeopardize the US security, meaning that another round of trade war is inevitable.
Actually, this was the initial goal. Steel and aluminum were only to provoke a full-scale war. Trump has enough space to go wild: according to moderate estimations, the German trade surplus to the US is $ 65 billion.
Mikhail Antonov, Alexander Korostelyov, and Andrey Putra for Vesti from Berlin, Germany.