The European Union on Friday released a list of U.S. exports ranging from rice to playing cards that could be subject to retaliation for President Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the U.S.
The EU’s move potentially heightens the stakes if Trump refuses to exempt the bloc from his steel and aluminum tariffs.
The Washington Post noted that the EU’s 10-page list includes “products selected for maximum political impact in the United States. Among them: Bourbon, a specialty of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky; cranberries, which grow in House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s native Wisconsin; orange juice from Florida and tobacco from North Carolina, two political swing states that are rich in electoral votes.”
“It’s pretty clear they’re trying to wake up American legislators, who are the only ones in government who can influence the president on this issue,” said Chad Bown, a trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28 EU members, has asked “private stakeholders” affected by the U.S. tariffs to weigh in on EU’s possible response by March 26 after which it will present a formal proposal.
The EU’s 28 member states would also have to agree on any action. “We feel we are on very strong legal grounds,” an EU official said on Friday.
But officials described the publication of Friday’s list as a procedural step. “They absolutely do not have interest in a tit-for-tat trade war with the United States,” Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the Post.
According to CNN Money, U.S exports worth 6.4 billion euros ($7.9 billion) could be subject to the tariffs — equal to the value of steel and aluminum shipped each year from the European Union to the United States.
“The 28 nations in the European Union produce 10% of the world’s steel,” CNN noted. “EU trade officials are worried that jobs would be at risk if steel that would have otherwise been sold in the United States is diverted to Europe, pushing down prices.”