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Things You Need to Know for the Week Ahead

Just when it looked like U.S. consumers could breathe a sigh of relief now that tax season is near an end, and it seemed the trade war with China was closer to a resolution, there’s a new threat in town: possible tariffs on nearly $12 billion in trade goods that includes apparel from the European Union.

Border wall: The Defense Department this week said it awarded two contracts to build President Trump’s border wall, with a targeted completion date of October 2020. SLSCO Ltd. was awarded one contract for $789 million to build a section of the wall in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, while Barnard Construction Co. was awarded the second agreement for $187 million to build the portion that’s located in Yuma, Arizona. The nearly $1 billion in funds were repurposed from other accounts and are separate from the $3.6 billion request that was connected to the funding issues that led to the partial government shutdown in December. Meanwhile, Trump this week said he would send more U.S. troops to the southern border, noting the locals impacted by migrants crossing the border and raiding American homes. The National Retail Federation last week sent a letter to Washington noting that closure of the southern border would hurt the retail supply chain. Late Friday, reports from The New York Times said Trump has urged the acting secretary of Homeland Security to close the U.S.-Mexico border, despite noting earlier that he’d hold off.

Brexit: The European Union has agreed to a delay, until Oct. 31, to the U.K.’s exit from the EU. And while the delay means no hard exit now, there’s no guarantee that six months will be enough time for some resolution come Oct. 31. Discussions on breaking the impasse are on hold due to Parliament’s Easter recess next week.

Trade war: There’s still no timetable on a trade deal between the U.S. and China, but the two countries this week agreed to set up respective enforcement offices. The offices would monitor the terms of the still-to-be-determined trade deal as a way to ensure compliance by each side.

New tariffs, possibly: The U.S. has begun the process of identifying certain European products to tax, with an initial list said to include cheese, wine and apparel. The proposed tariffs are in connection with inconsistent subsidies on large civil aircraft such as Airbus. It’s an action that has the EU preparing for its so-called tit-for-tat for European products entering the U.S. Reports surfaced on Friday that the European Commission, in retaliation, is looking at imposing tariffs on nearly $12 billion of U.S. goods due to Washington’s failure to halt tax breaks to Boeing. Reports said U.S. goods on the list ranged from handbags to frozen cod and salmon, fruit, beeswax, tractors and auto parts.

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