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President Trump Threatens to Impose 20% Tariff on European Cars

President Donald Trump said he plans to impose a 20 percent tariff on all cars imported from the EU unless the trade bloc “soon” removes import duties and other barriers to U.S. goods, escalating his global trade war.

“Based on the Tariffs and Trade Barriers long placed on the U.S. and it great companies and workers by the European Union, if these Tariffs and Barriers are not soon broken down and removed, we will be placing a 20% Tariff on all of their cars coming into the U.S. Build them here!” Trump said in a tweet on Friday.

European automakers declined on the news. BMW AG dropped 1.3 percent as of 4:56 p.m. in Munich. Volkswagen AG slipped 0.7 percent. General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., both based in Michigan, were little changed, erasing gains from earlier in the day.

The EU imposed retaliatory tariffs on about $3.3 billion of American products on Friday in response to Trump’s tariffs on imported aluminum and steel.

The European tariffs target politically resonant products, including 25 percent duties on Harley-Davidson Inc. motorcycles, Levi Strauss & Co. jeans and bourbon whiskey. The EU measures cover a total of around 200 categories in total, also including various types of corn, rice, orange juice, cigarettes, cigars, t-shirts, cosmetics, boats and steel.

The Trump administration said last week that it would impose 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports on July 6, with $16 billion more under review, and 10 percent tariffs on another $200 billion announced on Monday. China has vowed to retaliate.

Trump’s tweet on car tariffs comes as U.S. ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell is in Washington this week seeking a deal on auto levies.He spoke to White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin about reducing existing tariffs on cars shipped between the U.S. and Europe to zero. There’s support in the administration and from German carmakers for such an idea, but no agreement has been reached yet.