Following promises (threats?) by EU bloc executive Jean-Claude Juncker and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the European Union would soon impose retaliatory tariffs on the US while moving ahead with a settlement dispute at the WTO, Merkel's chief spokesman Steffen Seibert reiterated Monday morning that the EU is "ready to take action" and that its planned trade countermeasures would be ready to take effect on July 1.
Earlier this month, EU members voiced their support for a plan that would slap 25% tariffs on up to $3.3 billion in US goods. The EU plan would also impose duties of between 10% and 50% on $4.2 billion in additional goods in March 2021, or sooner, if the WTO rules that the Trump tariffs are, in fact, illegal (as many of the US's rivals have alleged). Meanwhile, Trump's aluminum and steel tariffs would impact more than $7.5 billion in European goods.
However, Seibert added that Germany is still ready to resolve the trade standoff through the WTO. But with the US reluctant to do so, it's likely that the "tit-for-tat" tariffs will continue until both sides decide to meet at the negotiating table.
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It's long been expected that the EU would respond to the US tariffs by slapping levies on iconic American goods like motorcycles, orange juice and whiskey (call them the "bourbon and blue jeans" tariffs). In addition to the symbolic weight, many of these goods are produced in states that voted for Trump. Meanwhile, with Harley Davidson's base in Wisconsin, some have suggested that it could be an attempt to target swing states.