Trump threatens 20 percent USA tariff on European Union auto imports


READ MOREAustralia's trade talks with EU under way

Global markets were thrown into flux once again when (yet again) US President Donald Trump poured gasoline on the simmering "Trade War" fire.

He spoke to White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about reducing existing tariffs on cars shipped between the U.S. and Europe to zero.

The move by the European Commission is in response to the Trump administration's decision in March to introduce tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium imported into the US.

Such a move would be a massive escalation of the already intense trade fight between the USA and Europe.

The U.S. had a surplus in services trade with the European Union of $45 billion in 2017, according to the memo, citing U.S. statistics.

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"You're already going to see prices going up incrementally as a result of the steel and aluminium tariffs in the auto sector", said Lusk, whose group represents foreign-branded auto dealers in the US. Leaders from the UK, Germany, and France slammed Trump's decision to hit the European Union with steel and aluminum tariffs and the bloc responded with tariffs of their own.

European Union trade officials have described the USA tariffs on steel and aluminum - justified by the Trump administration on grounds of national security -- as "illegal".

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, representing major US and European automakers, said "tariffs raise vehicle prices. limit consumer choice and invite retaliatory action by our trading partners".

"Free trade has made BMW's success and our investments and the jobs we sustain in the United States possible".

President Trump on Friday threatened to unilaterally impose a 20 percent tariff on all automobile imports from Europe, further breaking from Republicans in Congress and front-running an investigation he had ordered from the Commerce Department into whether these imports harm the U.S.'s national security. They totally rely on us, which is fine with me.

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Trump's decision came three days after he announced tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods that would be subject to a 25% tariff.

And he is threatening to impose another national security-based tariff on imports of cars, trucks and auto parts. He charged that a succession of poorly negotiated accords - including the North American Free Trade Agreement and the pact that admitted China into the World Trade Organization - put American manufacturers at an unfair disadvantage and destroyed millions of US factory jobs. But, he said, the move could hurt India's economic growth as the country diversifies its exports, as well as prompt India "to re-look at USA relations as undependable".

"Tariffs would raise the cost of these parts and domestic production, which makes products more expensive to consumers and lowers demand for them in the United States and overseas", according to PIIE's analysis.

Global markets yesterday took the development in their stride, with stocks in Europe firm after weeks of instability on trade worries.

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