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EU threatens taxes on Levi jeans, bourbon, Harley-Davidson over Trump tariffs

By Sommer Brokaw
U.S. President Donald Trump spoke at a meeting with leaders of the steel and aluminum industries at the White House in Washington, DC on Thursday. Trump announced planned tariffs on imported steel and aluminum during the meeting. Photo by Win McNamee/UPI
U.S. President Donald Trump spoke at a meeting with leaders of the steel and aluminum industries at the White House in Washington, DC on Thursday. Trump announced planned tariffs on imported steel and aluminum during the meeting. Photo by Win McNamee/UPI | License Photo

March 3 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump threatened to tax European cars on Saturday -- the third day of trade arguments over his planned taxes on U.S. steel and aluminum imports.

Trump announced Thursday that he would impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports to the U.S.

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The trade debate escalated further after the European Union threatened to impose tariffs on American-made products in retaliation Trump's proposed tariffs. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker specifically identified taxes on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, bourbon whiskey and Levi Strauss blue jeans as "counter measures," an EU spokesperson told CNN.

Trump countered Saturday, saying that the U.S. could follow-up with taxes on European car imports to the U.S.

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"If the E.U. wants to further increase their already massive tariffs and barriers on U.S. companies doing business there, we will simply apply a Tax on their Cars which freely pour into the U.S. They make it impossible for our cars (and more) to sell there. Big trade imbalance!," Trump tweeted Saturday. "The United States has an $800 Billion Dollar Yearly Trade Deficit because of our "very stupid" trade deals and policies. Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!"

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U.S. Department of Commerce Wilbur Ross recommended implementing tariffs last month based on a 262-page investigative report, finding that mounting steel and aluminum imports, particularly from China, were a threat to national security.

Juncker doesn't buy that rationale.

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He said in a release that Trump's proposed tariffs are primarily "blatant intervention to protect U.S. Domestic industry," and "any national security justification appears very weak."

"The US Secretary of Defense has stated publicly that US military requirements represent no more than 3 percent of US production and that the Department of Defense is able to acquire the steel and aluminum it needs for U.S. national defense requirements," the EU release stated. "We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk ... I had the occasion to say that the EU would react adequately and that's what we will do. The EU will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests."

Still, there are concerns from the World Trade Organization about a possible trade war.

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"The potential for escalation is real, as we have seen from the initial responses of others," said World Trade Organization director general Roberto Azevêdo. "A trade war is in no one's interests. The WTO will be watching the situation very closely."

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