Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross spoke to Reuters yesterday and said the Trump regime could use the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that authorized tariffs on European goods in response to subsidies for Airbus to impose tariffs on European cars and car parts now that their "national security" window has expired.
But how could they do that? The WTO authorized up to $7.5 billion in tariffs on European goods and the Trump regime has already imposed the full $7.5 billion which came into effect on October 18th.
The European Union tried and failed to appeal the WTO's ruling and the office of Trump's trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, says they will punish Europe for filing an appeal.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer painted the WTO ruling in harsh terms, saying: "In light of today's report and the lack of progress in efforts to resolve this dispute, the United States is initiating a process to assess increasing the tariff rates and subjecting additional EU products to the tariffs."
"Strong action is needed to convince the EU that its interest lie in eliminating these market-distorting subsidies now and in the future so that our industries can compete on a level playing field," he said in a statement, the Financial Times reported.
It's not clear if Lighthizer is saying they will ask the WTO for the authority to impose more tariffs, but I don't think that's what they have in mind. The process of securing a legal ruling in favor tariffs at the WTO takes years if not literally a decade (the case against Airbus subsidies started under the Bush administration) and Trump is not going to wait around for that.
It's also not clear if the tariffs Lighthizer is floating are the tariffs on cars and car parts that Wilbur Ross is floating, but it seems likely to me that these things are connected.
Keep in mind that the World Trade Organization has also found that the United States illegally subsidizes Boeing and a decision authorizing European tariffs on American goods is still pending.