US tariffs: Allies retaliate with levies on jam, lamps and sleeping bags

Shipping containersImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption The EU, Canada and Mexico are all planning to retaliate against the US tariffs

The US has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from its allies the EU, Canada and Mexico – but don’t think they’ll take it without a fight.

All three have already announced retaliatory measures as the US follows its new policy, which has been attacked as “protectionism, pure and simple” by the EU.

Ranging from serious to strange, these counter-tariffs could play a part in a growing trade battle.

US tariffs: Allies retaliate with levies on jam, lamps and sleeping bags
US tariffs: Allies retaliate with levies on jam, lamps and sleeping bags

Read on to see which American products each US ally plans to target.

  • What is a trade war and why should I worry?
  • Trade tariffs: Real war or phoney war


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau objected strongly to the announced tariffs, calling them an “affront” to their nations’ military alliance.

He said Canada buys half of US steel exports.

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Media captionTrudeau: Canada not US national security threat

In retaliation, Canada plans “trade-restrictive countermeasures” on C$16.6bn ($12.8bn) of US goods, to come into effect on 1 July.

The country will impose a 25% tariff on assorted US steel products, including railway tracks, piping and steel sheets.

But Canada also plans a 10% tariff on more varied items:

  • Yoghurt, soya sauce, strawberry jam, “mixed condiments”, pizza and quiche
  • Orange juice, whiskies, coffee, soups and waters
  • Manicure and pedicure products, hair lacquers, shaving foam, toilet paper and dishwasher detergents
  • Playing cards, felt-tipped pens, inflatable boats, lawnmowers and sleeping bags

The list, published by the Department of Finance, also includes a 10% tariff on candles – although, relax Canadians, “not including those for birthdays, Christmas or other festive occasions”.

No explanation is given for why these products were chosen.

Image copyrightPress Association
Image caption Canada is targetting a variety of US foods – including pizza

The EU

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said he plans to take the US to the World Trade Organization over the American tariffs, a policy he called “totally unacceptable”.

In the meantime, the bloc released a list of tariffs in March – 10 pages of US goods they plan to target:

  • Bourbon whiskey, orange juice and cranberries
  • Jeans, T-shirts and tobacco
  • Corn and other agricultural products
  • Steel and industrial products
  • Cosmetics, consumer goods, motorbikes and pleasure boats

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption The EU plans to target iconic US goods, like Levi’s jeans

The aim is to have the maximum political effect. Kentucky, home to bourbon whiskey, is Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s state.

Orange juice, meanwhile, is a major export of Florida – a key US swing state.

France’s junior trade minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said he expects EU counter-measures to be completed by mid-June.


America’s southern neighbour also swiftly released a list of products on which it would impose tariffs, “up to an amount comparable to the level of damage” of US tariffs. The economy ministry said levies would be placed on the following:

  • Flat steel, hot and cold foil products, and piping
  • Cold cuts, pork chops and sausages
  • Berries, grapes, apples and “various cheeses”
  • Lamps

Image copyrightReuters
Image caption Mexico economy minister Ildefonso Guajardo attacked the US tariffs

Economy minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Mexican radio that “this kind of thing does not benefit anybody”.

Mr Guajardo said Mexico is the top buyer of US aluminium and the second-biggest buyer of US steel.

US tariffs could hit $4bn worth of trade between the two countries.

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