EU is ready to retaliate as trade dispute grows

BRUSSELSThe European Union (EU) says it will continue a tit-for-tat escalation in its trade dispute with the US while countering President Donald Trump’s assertion that the US is being treated unfairly by the 28-nation bloc.

Jyrki Katainen, the EU commissioner in charge of jobs and growth, told the French newspaper Le Monde in a story posted on Saturday that if Trump applies new tariffs to European cars, as he threatened this week, the bloc “again, would have no choice but to react.”

The EU imposed tariffs on €2.8 billion (RM14 billion) of American products last week in response to duties on its metals exports deemed to be a threat to US national security. The commission, the bloc’s executive arm, said the €1 trillion in commerce between the EU and US is equitable, and it disputed Trump’s assertion that the EU needs to be punished because of unfair trade practices, according to an internal EU memo obtained by Bloomberg.

The US had a surplus in services trade with the EU of US$45 billion (RM180 billion) in 2017, according to the memo, citing US statistics. The memo also said the EU is the largest investor in the US, accounting for 72% of inward foreign direct investment and that EU-headquartered firms employed 3.2 million people in the states.

Including trade in goods, services and primary income from investments, the US runs a €12 billion surplus with the EU, according to the memo.

The European tariffs target politically resonant products, including 25% duties on Harley-Davidson Inc motorcycles, Levi Strauss & Co jeans and bourbon. — Bloomberg