Hours after Trump tweeted on Friday morning that “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the bloc is prepared to respond quickly and forcefully by targeting imports of Harley-Davidson motorbikes, Levi Strauss & Co. jeans and bourbon whiskey from the U.S.
According to some, the preliminary EU retaliation was targeted in a way that would maximize political pressure on American leaders: Harley-Davidson is based in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin, while bourbon whiskey hails from the state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. San Francisco-based Levi Strauss is headquartered in House Minority Leader’s Nancy Pelosi’s district.
As Bloomberg noted, Juncker’s threat heightened the prospects of a global free-for-all, as the World Trade Organization said the potential of escalating tensions “is real” and the International Monetary Fund warned the restrictions would likely damage the U.S. and global economy. It also prompted speculation that in light of the widespread condemnation by US trading partners and allies, that Trump might step back and reconsider the sanctions. This in turn led to a late-day burst in the stock market.