What do cranberries, t-shirts, and yachts have in common? Nothing. Until Donald Trump started a trade war — and in the process alienated America’s longtime allies, the EU and Canada. The full list of products the European Union intends to impose tariffs on, in retaliation to Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, has arrived and reads like a box subscription for a finance bro starter pack. No more cran vodkas, bourbons, jeans, cigarettes, or yachts for you Europe! Because those items are about to be hit by a 10-25% price hike. But seriously, this could also strike fear into the hearts of Glossier addicts across the EU. Because spoiler: makeup is on there too.
A trade war is a very serious matter indeed, but when you consider the thought processes that went into making the list beyond the obvious stuff (steel and aluminum), the rest of the tariffs list is pretty hilarious. And in a way, it’s a proverbial fuck you to America.
While a ton of different factors go into deciding what will be taxed — including, notably, an assessment of which items will have the largest economic impact in Republican states — a lot of it just comes down to the essential Americanness of a product. As trade expert Inu Manak told GQ, the companies that EU retaliates against will “represent things bigger than the value itself.”
It’s not actually so far-fetched (you know, in the internet sense of the word) to imagine that the things the Europeans picked for this trade war speaks volumes about how our friends across the Atlantic perceive us. And while some of the items just seem random (like “eye makeup preparations”), others could be coming from a place of having seen one too many spaghetti westerns. Or episodes of Billions. Or… I don’t know, the non-existent pop cultural touchstone for the American fruit industry? (There really ought to be one.)
It’s worth mentioning that most experts have agreed that no one wins in a trade war, but let’s revisit what Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission said about all this back in March: “This is basically a stupid process, the fact that we have to do this. But we have to do it. We will now impose tariffs on motorcycles, Harley Davidson, on blue jeans, Levis, on Bourbon. We can also do stupid. We also have to be this stupid."
Unless they’re planning on putting a tariff on apple pie — which, to the best of my knowledge is not a major export — this is definitely the most American thing they could possibly tax. Nothing says America like an item originally intended for factory workers and miners that now regularly retails for upwards of $200.
Tobacco is a huge industry in America — hence why the stuff is still legal, despite the fact that it pretty much rots your lungs and will eventually cause cancer — and it’s also a major part of our identity. I mean, is there anyone more American-with-a-capital-A than the Marlboro man? Sure, he’s little more than a marketing tactic that prays on our deep-seated desire to seem cool and edgy, but the dude has swagger. And if there’s one thing we respect here, it’s swagger. I mean, just look at Trump, the inexperienced, braggadocious, unreasonably confident dude who got us into this mess!
Aside from possessing the freedom to give yourself self lung cancer, what’s more American than, like, people in patched-up leather jackets with beards and long hair? You know, riding through this world all alone. God takes your soul, you're on your own. The crow flies straight, a perfect line. On the Devil's Bed until you die. Wait, hold on, those are just the lyrics to the opening song from Sons of Anarchy. But honestly, I think the point still stands.
I mean, we have to have something to wear underneath our leather motorcycle jackets, right? And to emblazon various (possibly MAGA-related?) slogans on. I’m sure when the notion of taxing t-shirts and “singlets or other vests of cotton, knitted, or crocheted” material came up, this salient point was made and all the European honchos agreed, t-shirts would be taxed. The one thing they forgot to include? Baseball hats. I mean, hello, if there’s anything Trump’s base cares about, it’s red baseball hats.
Bourbon & Whiskey
I feel like at this point, this list has really painted a really vivid picture of the motorcycle-riding, Marlboro-smoking, bourbon-swilling cowboy each American has nestled somewhere inside of them.
This one, however, feels like it takes direct aim at Donald Trump. Not only because he once owned the third-largest yacht in the world, but more because he no longer does. He had to sell it in 1991 after he ran into “financial problems,” and that seems like the kind of thing that would upset him greatly to look back on. I’m sure he misses his superyacht, which is now owned by a Saudi billionaire, and does not appreciate being reminded of it. Kind of like how he doesn’t like being reminded that he’s actually not that rich.
Have Europeans watched too many Ocean Spray commercials or something? Do they think we’re all just sloshing around in the cranberry bogs day in and day out in order to produce enough of the favorite juice of literally no one except Sex and the City die-hards and people with UTIs? Is it because it needs a few cups of sugar to make it taste good? Or Is it because they know we eat them on Thanksgiving? I feel like it’s because they know we eat them on Thanksgiving, but then, I’m not seeing the same pressure being applied to the turkey lobby. So that’s obviously quite mysterious. I’m honestly not sure what the deal is here, and apparently, neither are the folks who actually do slosh around in bogs on the regular.
And there you have it, folks. America through the eyes of some people who are really buying into the good ol' fashioned stereotypes. The Canadians, meanwhile, are seeking to tax cucumbers, gherkins, pizza, ketchup, beer kegs, lawn mowers, sailboats, sleeping bags, and playing cards. Sounds like a pretty sick Canadian bro party to me! But also: Gherkins? What do they think this is, Bridget Jones’s Diary? That’s England, people. And why does this list sound like it could double as the menu for a particularly delicious cookout? Canada, we have some questions.