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EU imposes tariffs on U.S. peanuts, motorcycles and whiskey

UPDATED: Fri., June 22, 2018, 4:20 p.m.

Catoctin Creek Distillery whiskey is on display June 20, 2018, in the tasting room in Purcellville, Va. The European Union on Friday will start taxing a range of U.S. imports, including Harley-Davidson bikes, cranberries, peanut butter, playing cards and whiskey. (Steve Helber / Associated Press)
Catoctin Creek Distillery whiskey is on display June 20, 2018, in the tasting room in Purcellville, Va. The European Union on Friday will start taxing a range of U.S. imports, including Harley-Davidson bikes, cranberries, peanut butter, playing cards and whiskey. (Steve Helber / Associated Press)

BRUSSELS – The European Union started enforcing tariffs Friday on American imports like bourbon, motorcycles, peanut butter and orange juice, part of a growing global trade rift that’s likely to intensify over the next few weeks.

The EU tariffs on $3.4 billion worth of U.S. products are in retaliation for duties the Trump administration has imposed on European steel and aluminum.

The EU trade commissioner has acknowledged that the EU targeted some iconic American items to put political pressure on U.S. President Donald Trump and senior U.S. politicians. European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein said the EU’s response is proportionate and reasonable.

Daniel Gros, director for Economy and Finance at the Center for European Policy Studies, said in a trade war everyone stands to lose, but the U.S. has put itself in a worse position.

“I think the United States is losing more because it has put tariffs on a very important input which very often it doesn’t produce itself,” he said. “The EU perhaps will find a few disgruntled consumers who have to pay more for their Harley Davidsons, but that is not a big loss for us.”

Trump imposed tariffs of 25 percent on EU steel and 10 percent on aluminum on June 1. Europeans claim that breaks global trade rules.

The spat is part of a wider tussle over global trade. In two weeks, the United States will start taxing $34 billion in Chinese goods. Beijing has vowed to immediately retaliate with its own tariffs on U.S. soybeans and other farm products.