August 19, 2022

The European Union just retaliated against the United States as Trump’s trade war erupts

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It’s a competitive list, but Donald Trump might have had his most disastrously consequential moment as president Thursday.  In just the latest example of tripping into a major policy decision, Trump unexpectedly and without warning launched a trade war against, well, country on the planet that exports steel and aluminum to the United States.


Within hours, responses came in from all corners and sectors.  Markets began to tumble late Thursday and continued their losses into Friday.  China weighed in immediately to express their grave concerns, though their response was suspiciously measured.

And now, the European Union – the United States’ single largest trading partner – has announced their response, and it strikes directly at the hearts of Trump-friendly industries to boot.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced Friday that the E.U. will slap retaliatory tariffs on American exports like Harley-Davidson motorcycles and  bourbon from Kentucky if Trump follows through on his threat.  He even threatened to impose tariffs on those most iconic of American exports: blue jeans.

“None of this is reasonable, but reason is a sentiment that is very unevenly distributed in this world,” Juncker said.  Reasonable is not a word often associated with the Trump Administration, to be fair.

The president started down this road Thursday when the White House decided to televise what looked like a hastily arranged meeting with steel and aluminum executives.  After the meeting, Trump gave a statement  announcing that he had decided to impose a 10% tariff on foreign aluminum, and a 25% tariff on foreign steel.

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Later, in a desperate attempt to make it appear like this massive policy shift has some well thought out plans ungirding it, he tweeted:

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Economists and most Republicans have warned the president for weeks that even considering the tariffs would rattle markets and sow confusion among our trading partners.  Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, however, has been the strongest voice advocating for steel and aluminum tariffs, and he won the president over in recent days.

Now that the E.U. has predictably responded with retaliatory tariffs of their own, a trade war is essentially underway.  Buckle up.


Peter Mellado

Peter Mellado is a writer, producer, and a branding and messaging specialist with over 15 years experience. He studied history at San Jose State University, and resides in Los Angeles.

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