Anti-US tariffs take effect in EU

US stock markets are feeling the heat as tensions over trade between the US and China seem closer to a boil

After he imposed steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, the European Union retaliated by slapping $3.4 billion in tariffs on a variety of USA products - specifically targeting goods or agriculture produced in states that went for Trump in the last election.

The initial wave of European Union retaliatory tariffs is aimed at American goods worth €2.8 billion ($3.2 billion).

The European Union says it will continue a tit-for-tat escalation in its trade dispute with the US while countering President Donald Trump's assertion that the U.S.is being treated unfairly by the 28-nation bloc.

President Trump is threatening to impose a 20 percent tariff on all auto imports from Europe, ahead of results from an investigation initiated last month by his own Commerce Department.

It's unclear whether Trump was actually referring to the new set of tariffs or to the pre-existing 10 percent tariffs the European Union imposes on US auto products. The EU imposes a 10 percent tariff on imported USA cars.

Earlier in the week, news reports emerged that Daimler, which produces Mercedes-Benz autos, and other German automakers were pitching a reciprocal elimination of tariffs.

German automakers Mercedes, BMW, and Volkswagen all have plants in southern states and directly employ more than 20,000 U.S. workers between them, primarily at those factories. The threat comes as General Motors said it will build its new Blazer SUV in Mexico, highlighting the difficulty Trump is having in getting automakers to bend to his will.

The Commerce Department has scheduled two days of public comments in July in its probe of the national security implications of imported automobiles and auto parts.

"We've never seen anything like this", said Mary Lovely, a Syracuse University economist who studies worldwide trade - at least not since countries tried to wall themselves off from foreign competition during the Great Depression. He told automakers at a White House meeting in May he was planning tariffs on some imported vehicles. It's reported that Trump said the tax would be upheld until Fifth Avenue was devoid of Mercedes models.

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When the USA imposed the tariffs it said it was doing so as a matter of national security - further angering its closest allies, whose tariffs are now targeting President Trump's base of support - in the steel and aluminum industries, but also in farming states, and in whiskey-producing Kentucky.

In a statement, Trump said he had asked the USA trade representative to identify the Chinese products that would be subject to the new tariffs.

BMW's largest plant in the world, in SC, built 371,000 cars previous year.

Earlier this month, the President lashed out at US ally Canada for the Prime Minister's comments criticizing USA trade policy.

This week, Trump further raised concerns of a trade war by asking his trade representative to evaluate an additional $200 billion in Chinese products for additional duties, a move that followed China's retaliatory measure against the United States.

Felipe Munoz, global analyst at JATO Dynamics, said: "While German-made cars accounted for 4% of Q1-18 USA sales, American-made cars made only 1.3% of German registrations in the first quarter". Last year, the USA president threatened domestic manufacturers with a 35 percent tariff on cars produced outside the US.

Others would be affected, too, including Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler, which shipped about 154,000 vehicles from Europe to the U.S.in 2017, according to LMC.

Pompeo made the comment as part of his prepared remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit just outside Washington, where he promoted the United States' business climate and investment opportunities, saying the country is "truly open for business".

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday the US's new stance on trade "goes against all logic and history". In total, the USA exported $10 billion worth of passenger vehicles to the U.S. in 2017. "And many require a auto to get to their jobs".

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