Bourbon, cheroots and steel: EU’s US trade war hitlist

Brussels – From blue jeans to motorbikes and whiskey, the EU’s hitlist of products to target for tariffs in the event of a trade war with the US reads like a catalogue of emblematic American exports.

The EU has drawn up a list but will not activate it unless US President Donald Trump follows through on his threat to hit impose 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium.

The list does not specifically name brands but European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker spelled out on Friday that the bloc was “preparing import duties for US products including Harley-Davidson, Bourbon and Levi’s jeans.”

The EU estimates the US tariffs would cost it some 2.8 billion euros and its counter measures aim to penalise imports from the US to the same value while also generating political pressure on Trump at home from industries whose exports would be hit.

Here are some highlights from the EU’s four-page list.

– Steel –

Dozens of steel products, including bars and rods, rolled steel, stainless steel, wire, tubes, chain, pipes and scaffolding, as well as kitchen appliances, ovens, ladders and washbasins.

– Clothing and fabrics –

Clothing including “trousers and breeches of cotton denim” — better known as jeans — along with bed linen and men’s leather footwear. Swimwear and underwear are excluded.

– Cosmetics –

Eye make-up and lipsticks — which together accounted for more than 280 million euros’ worth of EU imports from the US in 2017.

– Transport –

Motorbikes and mopeds “with reciprocating internal combustion piston engines” of 500 cc capacity and above, which includes most Harley-Davidson models. Boats, yachts, canoes and rowing boats are also on the list.

– Food and drink –

Maize, rice, cranberries, cranberry juice, orange juice, sweetcorn and peanut butter are among the food products targeted.

The list also covers bourbon whiskey — the EU imported some 415 million euros’ worth from the US in 2017, along with another 150 million euros’ worth of whiskey without the “bourbon” designation.

– Other –

Cigarettes, cigars, cheroots (a type of thin cigar) and other types of tobacco are there.

A further list containing safety glass, mirrors and drinking glasses and playing cards is only provisional for now and may be used at a later date.