The Trump regime repeated their threat to impose tariffs on cars and car parts imported from Europe at the annual gathering of world leaders in Davos, Switzerland, and European officials were certainly listening.
Both the French and German ambassadors to the United States spoke at Davos where they said they don't want to fight a trade war with Trump, but they will retaliate if he moves ahead with his proposed tariffs on cars.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The European Union is as strong economically as the United States, and will respond to any additional U.S. tariffs with duties of its own on U.S. products, Germany’s ambassador to the United States, Emily Haber, said on Wednesday. [...]
Haber told an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies the EU would respond “in the same dimension and the same vein.”
French Ambassador Philippe Etienne told the same event that the EU was pushing for negotiated settlements of disputes with Washington over aircraft subsidies and digital taxes, warning that escalating tit-for-tat tariffs would hurt both economies.
European officials may not want to fight a trade war with Trump, but they're arguably already involved in one in which Trump has already fired the first shots.
European leaders may not equate the tariffs that Trump imposed after getting the green light from the World Trade Organization (WTO) as part of a greater trade war, but they should. They should because Trump almost certainly sees it that way.
The European Union is not a significant market for American cars so retaliatory tariffs our own cars in response to tariffs on European cars would not be "in the same dimension," but they could impose stiff tariffs on a wide range of other American exports.
Europe is a significant market for American aircraft makers, drug companies, tech and energy companies. And like China, our largest agricultural export to the European Union is soybeans. American farmers would not suffer as much in a trade war with Europe as they have in the war with China, but it certainly wouldn't help them. The agricultural industry had sought to expand access to the European market after Trump launched his trade war with China, but Trump could close off that access before it's even opened.
I think bullying Europe during an election year will just be too tempting for Trump to completely avoid an expanded trade war even if European and Trump regime officials do reach an agreement on some matters.