Trump's tariff talk triggers EU retaliatory plan

Trump's tariff talk triggers EU retaliatory plan
From CBC - March 7, 2018

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Hitting American where it hurts

It looks like Donald Trump is going to get his trade war.

This morning, the European Union unveiled its list of American-made items that will be subject to new 25 per cent import duties if the U.S. President follows through on his plan to impose tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

"We have made it clear that a move that hurts the EU and puts thousands of European jobs in jeopardy will be met with a firm and proportionate response," Cecilia Malmstrm, the European Commissioner for Trade, told a Brussels press conference.

As had been previously hinted and slyly reinforced by Malmstrm's choice of apparel, a black leather jacket the EU list includes Harley Davidson motorcycles, blue jeans and bourbon.

But there were close to 100 additional items, including self-tapping screws, step-ladders, bed linen, lipstick, manicure sets, kitchen sinks, and appliances for "baking, frying and grilling." (We are looking at you, George Foreman.)

Food imports will also be taxed, including cranberries, juices, corn, rice and the iconic American breakfast staple peanut butter.

As will more rarified, one-percenter purchases like yachts, sail craft and power boats.

Trump's proposed tariffs 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum are being levied under a 1962 act that gives the president power to limit trade for reasons of "national security."

But today, Malmstrm wondered aloud how the act applies to "traditional allies."

"We cannot see how the European Union, friends and allies in NATO, can be a threat to international security in the U.S.," she said.

Similar questions have already been raised within the White House. Gary Cohn, Trump's chief economic advisor and former Wall St. banker, resigned in protest Tuesday.

And this morning, the U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross indicated that the resident's position might be more flexible than it appears -- at least when it comes to Canada and Mexico.

"We are not trying to blow up the world. There's no intention of that," Ross said in an interview on the CNBC network. "We are not looking for a trade war. We are going to have very sensible relations with our allies."

Although Trump's daily tweet-fest suggests otherwise.

From Bush 1 to present, our Country has lost more than 55,000 factories, 6,000,000 manufacturing jobs and accumulated Trade Deficits of more than 12 Trillion Dollars. Last year we had a Trade Deficit of almost 800 Billion Dollars. Bad Policies & Leadership. Must WIN again! #MAGA


Today the U.S. Commerce Department announced that the country's trade deficit hit $56.6 billion US in January -- a nine-year high.

And America's trade imbalance with China the world's No. 1 steel producer is only getting worse, up 16 per cent to $36 billion.

Skripal poisoned by nerve agent

British authorities say they now know what the mystery substance was that caused a former Russian spy and his daughter to fall deathly ill last weekend a nerve agent.

Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, remain in critical condition in a hospital in Salisbury, England. On Sunday evening, they were discovered passed out on a park bench near a downtown shopping mall.

At Scotland Yard this afternoon, Mark Rowley, assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, told reporters that lab tests suggest that the illnesses were caused by a nerve agent, and that the victims were "targeted specifically" in an act of "attempted murder."

Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence colonel who was arrested in 2006 and sentenced to 13 years in jail for "high treason," having allegedly worked as British double agent since the early 1990s.

He was pardoned by then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in July 2010, and was included in a swap for 10 deep-cover "sleeper agents" that the Russians had placed in the United States.

Skripal was later granted U.K. residency and obtained a house in Salisbury, the sleepy cathedral town southeast of London where Sunday's incident took place.

His daughter Yulia was visiting from her home in Russia.

The news came after footage emerged of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, appearing to vow revenge on Skripal and other "traitors."

In an appearance on Russian television in 2010, Putin was asked about the spy swap that saw Skripal and three other Russians sent to the West.


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