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"The trade that we believe in is built on rules, trust and reliable partnership", President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a speech in Dublin last night. Leaders from the UK, Germany, and France slammed Trump's decision to hit the European Union with steel and aluminum tariffs and the bloc responded with tariffs of their own. Trump's tariffs, he said, contradict "all logic and history".

The products affected will include cigarettes, denim, peanut butter, orange juice, blue jeans, bourbon, and motorcycles. Suntanning equipment - sunbeds and lamps - was hit with the same rate, as were washing machines and some electronic devices.

The European Union this week triggered the first phase of retaliation against the United States over its metal-import tariffs imposed on national-security grounds, making good on more than three months of threats to hit American goods with tit-for-tat levies.

"We are left with no other choice", Malmstrom said in a statement.

"The rules of global trade, which we have developed over the years hand in hand with our American partners, can not be violated without a reaction from our side", Malmstrom added, calling the European Union response "measured, proportionate and fully in line with WTO rules".

John Murphy, a senior vice president at the US Chamber of Commerce, estimates that $US75 billion in US products will be subject to new foreign tariffs by the end of the first week of July.

Brussels first drew up the list in March when US President Donald Trump initially floated the idea of 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium. Trump is threatening to impose a tariff double that size if the European Union doesn't remove its barriers.

In the case of China, even though the world's second-largest economy does not import enough from the United States to match Mr Trump's tariffs dollar for dollar, Beijing can still squeeze American companies in other ways.

President Trump said the measures against the EU are meant to protect USA national security interests, but the Europeans claim it can not be that close allies, many of them North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners, would endanger US security. The countries have hit each other with tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods; Trump has threatened to add another $200 billion. But if both exports and sales of USA companies inside China are measured, the United States has a surplus of US$20 billion with China, according to Deutsche Bank AG. "They are going to report bad earnings".