PARIS -- Europe will hit back if President Donald Trump follows through with a threat to slap import tariffs on European-made cars, France's finance minister said Monday.
Trump escalated already-burning trade tensions by threatening Friday to hit all imports of cars assembled in the European Union with a 20 percent tariff.
The threat comes shortly after the U.S. imposed tariffs on European-made steel and aluminum in a move Washington's NATO allies blasted as unjustifiable.
"If the United States hits us again with a 20 percent increase on cars, we will respond again. We don't want an escalation, but we are the ones being attacked," Bruno Le Maire, France's minister of the economy and finance, told the Anglo-American Press Association.
Trump posted his threat on Twitter the day EU reprisals took effect against U.S. tariffs on European steel and aluminum. The EU targeted $3.2 billion in American goods exported to the 28-member bloc, including bourbon and motorcycles.
Harley-Davidson said Monday that it would move production of motorcycles shipped to the EU from the U.S. to its international facilities and forecast the retaliatory tariffs would cost the company $90 million to $100 million a year.
Reacting to the news, Le Maire said: "Whatever allows jobs to be created in Europe goes in the right direction. We don't want a trade war, but we will defend ourselves."
Tariffs are not the only point of trade friction between Europe and the U.S.
EU countries are furious about U.S. sanctions their companies will be subject to for doing business with Iran following Trump's decision to pull out of a 2015 international nuclear deal.
Le Maire said that so far, he had not received "positive signs" from Washington about joint French, German and British requests for exemptions from the sanctions.
"For the moment, our requests remain unanswered," he said.