On the heels of victories in China and North America, President Donald Trump’s next trade hurdle has come into focus.
The European Union is at the center of the White House’s latest transatlantic trade efforts, with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer telling Fox Business Network in a Tuesday interview that America has “a very unbalanced relationship with Europe.”
“There are a lot of barriers to trade there,” he said, “and there are a lot of other problems that we have to address.”
The U.S. has been embroiled in a tariff dispute with the EU since Trump, over a year ago, slapped 25% tariffs on imports of steel and 10% on those of aluminum — a move he asserted would provide protection for American industrial workers.
Washington also imposed duties on $7.5 billion worth of European goods in October, including 25% on British-made apparel and accessories as well as a variety of food and beverages hailing from other European countries. The levies hit several fashion products, including women’s outerwear and swimwear as well as men’s suits imported from the United Kingdom.
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Further, early this month, Trump threatened to tax $2.4 billion worth of French products in retaliation for France’s new digital services tax, which charges a 3% tax on revenues earned by companies that provide digital services in the country, affecting tech behemoths such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. The USTR had released a list of items ranging from handbags and makeup to wine and cheese as well as other key exports from France that would be impacted by duties of up to 100%. No timeline has been announced as to when the tariffs will take effect.
In the interview with Fox, Lighthizer said that he seeks to “get some kind of a negotiated solution” to the tensions between the U.S. and Europe but added that “we have to put tariffs in place on a variety of products, and we’re going to continue to focus on that.”
The comments come just over a week since Trump and the House of Representatives agreed to move forward with the White House’s replacement deal for the North American Free Trade Agreement. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was declared a “victory for American workers” by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, including updated labor rules as well as provisions for agriculture, technology, manufacturing and other business sectors. The agreement has yet to be signed and ratified by all three countries.
Just three days after progress in the USMCA, the U.S. and China confirmed they had reached a partial trade deal. On Friday, Trump nixed the 15% levy on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese imports that was scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15, which would have impacted a wide array of consumer goods including footwear, apparel and accessories.
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How Tariffs on $7.5B Worth of European Goods Will Affect Luxury Fashion Brands