It has been less than a week, but it would appear that the U.S. Administration’s plans to impose import tariffs on steel and aluminum are unlikely to go unanswered.
In a response by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker has warned the United States to expect retaliatory strikes against American icons like Harley-Davidson, Levi’s jeans and Kentucky bourbon.
“If the Americans impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, then we must treat American products the same way,” Juncker told German television stations.
“We must show that we can also take measures. This cannot be a unilateral transatlantic action by the Americans,” he said. “I’m not saying we have to shoot back, but we must take action.
“We will put tariffs on Harley-Davidsons, on bourbon and on blue jeans - Levi’s,” he added. The selected targets have been deliberately chosen to target American cultural icons as much as they have been chosen as an import issue.
The inclusion of Harley in the list is no doubt informed by President Trump’s trumpeting of Milwaukee’s finest as a shining example of American manufacturing, Vice President Mike Pence’s known enthusiasm for Harleys, and, in no small part, by the U.S. Trade Representative’s 2017 threat to ban domestic U.S. imports of European made sub-500 cc motorcycles (in turn a response to Europe’s stance against Genetically Modified U.S. beef imports) – not the first time the U.S. administration has targeted European made small displacement motorcycles, despite the fact that there is no domestic U.S. owned and made alternative to protect.
It is thought that American whisky distilled in Kentucky made the list as a shot across the bows of Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell’s home state electoral interests.