EU Lists Tariff Targets

Report Points to Industries at Risk of Job Losses Due to Metal Tariffs

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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The European Commission is ready to play tit-for-tat with tariffs against the U.S. EU officials identified several agricultural products that would face tariffs if the Trump administration goes forward with tariffs against European steel and aluminum. (DTN file photo by Chris Clayton)

OMAHA (DTN) -- U.S. rice, cranberries, sweet corn, orange juice, kidney beans, peanut butter, tobacco and whiskey are among the agricultural products listed by the European Union to face retaliatory tariffs in Europe due to the Trump administration's push for tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

The European Commission released the full list of products on Friday, which includes a long list of various metal products, as well as consumer items ranging from t-shirts and jeans to motorcycles, home appliances and power boats. EU officials released the list as part of a 10-day comment period for affected people to make their case to the EU Commission about why a particular product should be included or exempt from the tariffs.

The EU exports about $6 billion in steel to the U.S., as well as about $1.2 billion in aluminum. President Donald Trump, arguing steel and aluminum imports are a threat to national security, announced last week his administration would impose a 25% tariff on most steel imports and a 10% tariff on most aluminum imports. Canada and Mexico are exempted from these tariffs, for now.

The overall impact dollar-wise is small in the grand scheme of U.S. agricultural exports forecast at $139.5 billion, but a few products will be hit harder than others.

The executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers told Bloomberg News earlier this week that the industry exports about 95 million pounds of cranberries to the EU, or about 12% of U.S. production.

The EU is not a major buyer of U.S. rice compared to other countries, but does account for about $42 million in sales, according to USA Rice. For the 2017-18 marketing year, which ends July 31, the U.S. has seen commitments for 16,411 metric tons of rice sold to the EU, according to USDA export data.

The U.S. is among the top exporters of oranges to the EU, but the U.S. is the third-largest foreign supplier of orange juice at 15,000 metric tons for the 2016-17 marketing year. Still, the volume pales in comparison to how much the EU imports orange juice from Brazil (591,000 mt) and Mexico (34,370 mt).

Cranberries are a relatively small crop, but Wisconsin is the largest state for cranberries, producing about 62% of the crop in 2017, according to NASS. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington are the other major cranberry-producing states.

A coalition of agribusiness groups, Americans for Farmers and Families, expressed concern about the EU list, stating that the potential for retaliatory tariffs "is not a zero-sum game."

Joshua Baca, a spokesman for the coalition, said, "Rural America will feel the impact of retaliatory tariffs quicker than any other industry. Americans for Farmers and Families wants to ensure that action taken on trade policy protects our farmers, the food and agriculture industries, and does not compromise negotiations for a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement."

Baca called on the Trump administration to reconsider the tariffs. (https://goo.gl/…)

A report on the job impacts of the tariffs was also released earlier this week. Agriculture would lose nearly as many jobs as an industry as the steel and aluminum industries would gain from President Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs.

The report by the Washington, D.C.-based firm Trade Partnership Worldwide LLC stated agriculture would lose 24,054 jobs while the food-processing industry would lose another 6,000 jobs. The tariffs could increase employment in the steel and aluminum industries by 26,346 workers, the report stated.

The report states 18 jobs would be lost for every job gained and would cost as many as 495,136 jobs in the process. California, Texas, New York and Florida would see the most jobs lost, losing a combined 158,700 jobs. (https://goo.gl/…)

For the full list of items from the U.S. that could face EU tariffs, visit: https://goo.gl/…

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

(ES/AG)

Chris Clayton