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The EU just hit back at Trump with its own tariffs on American goods

The EU will soon impose tariffs on goods like peanut butter, orange juice, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Trump and Europe are locked in a standoff over steel and aluminum tariffs LightRocket via Getty Images
Madeleine Ngo covers economic policy for Vox. She previously worked at the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The European Union has announced that as of Friday, it will impose tariffs on $3.2 billion worth of American goods including bourbon, peanut butter, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. The move is in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to impose harsh import taxes targeting the EU earlier this month.

“We did not want to be in this position,” EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström said in a statement Wednesday. “However, the unilateral and unjustified decision of the U.S. to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the EU means that we are left with no other choice.”

The EU is strategically choosing products that will hit Republicans hard. According to lists submitted to the World Trade Organization, the bloc of 28 European countries plans to enact a 25 percent tax on American products made in vulnerable Republican-heavy states, such as orange juice from Florida. The state, which had majority support for Trump in the 2016 election, could be key for Republicans to win over in this year’s midterm election.

The blow comes after Trump officially enacted a 25 percent steel tariff and 10 percent aluminum tariff on goods from the EU, Canada, and Mexico last month. He also threatened to impose taxes on European cars if the EU retaliated.

Imposing tariffs will make the affected American goods more expensive for European consumers, which doesn’t fare well for US manufacturers; the demand for those goods will likely decrease, meaning that US workers could be at risk of losing their jobs if profits start to plummet.

Trump keeps picking fights with major trading partners

This month has been especially contentious for Trump, who has launched trade fights with several countries that have traditionally been close US trading partners.

Last Friday, after Trump announced his intention to impose a massive tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, the Chinese ministry of commerce struck back, threatening tariffs of the same amount on US products that specifically target American farmers and industrial workers in the Midwest.

Earlier this month, Mexico also enacted tariffs on US goods to target states with large concentrations of Trump voters.

Which means China, Mexico, and now the EU are all seeking retribution by targeting key red states. Going into the 2018 midterm elections, that may be very bad news for the GOP.

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