Will Trump put 20% tariff on European Union cars?

BMW sedans ready for export in Bremerhaven Germany Europe’s largest port for auto exports

The duties on €2.8bn worth of U.S. goods came into force on Friday.

"These measures are the logical effect of the United States decision", French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told AFP.

"Based on the Tariffs and Trade Barriers long placed on the USA (...) by the European Union, if these Tariffs and Barriers are not soon broken down and removed, we will be placing a 20 per cent tariff on all of their cars coming into the US". The EU targeted $3.2 billion in American goods exported to the 28-member bloc, including bourbon and Harley Davidsons.

Mr Trump has threatened duties on up to $450 billion of imports from China.

Le Maire added that the Franco-German "motor" remained crucial at a time when Trump looked to "weaken Europe".

"Mr Trump has now opened up two fronts of this conflict and both have the potential to escalate out of control", Ferguson said. Trump argued that a global oversupply of the metals threatens steel and aluminium producers in the US. Under the country's Trade Expansion Act of 1962, such a scenario could allow Trump to raise import tariffs to protect national interests. "With Brexit and US tariffs, this market could shrink further", they said.

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"If the United States hits us again with a 20 percent increase on cars we will respond again". Trump had previously described China's unusually high import tariff as "stupid trade".

Some industry experts say that many assembly plants in the United States, including those from BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen, lack the flexibility to adjust in response to possible tariffs like these. Most come from Asia, but several European brands, including Land Rover, don't have United States factories.

European automakers including Volkswagen and BMW have major factories in America, for example, and their exports to Europe would be harmed by new EU tariffs.

The US may justify the auto tariffs on the grounds of national defense, just as it did in March when imposing duties on global imports of steel and aluminum. There's support in the administration and from German auto makers for such an idea, but no agreement has been reached yet.

An internal European Union memo obtained by Bloomberg disputed President Trump's conclusion that the European Union should be punished because of unfair trade practices. "Consumers fare best when tariffs are low", Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said in a statement. Germans are the world's leaders in the premium market as they hit before American and Japanese cars, and have been evolving fast, with large ranges of products.

Sales to the USA fell 10 percent to 494,000 vehicles, while Germany automakers produced 804,000 vehicles in the United States past year.

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