Sunday

23rd Feb 2020

US threatens extra trade tariffs, as EU talks top jobs

  • Trade clash comes as EU leaders focus on top jobs (Photo: dawvon)

The US has listed 89 more European products that could be hit with tariffs in an old dispute on aircraft subsidies.

But the trade clash comes as EU leaders focus on top jobs instead of international affairs, with French president Emmanuel Macron, for one, issuing a warning on the dangers of navel gazing in troubled times.

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  • "We give an image of a Europe that is not serious," French president Emmanuel Macron said (Photo: Consilium)

The US trade department said on Monday (1 July) it might slap 100 percent tariffs on $4bn (€3.5bn) of EU goods in retaliation for European subsidies to aircraft maker Airbus.

The list included several types of cheese, such as edam, gouda, gruyere, and blue-veined cheese.

It also mentioned Irish and Scottish whiskies, coffee, pasta, pork products, olives, cherries, pears, and peaches, as well as fertilisers, iron tubes, and copper rods, among other products.

The new list came on top of one in April on products worth $21bn.

The US trade department said it would take its final decision on how to proceed following public consultations with American firms in August.

The "final list" will also "take into account the report of the WTO [World Trade Organisation] arbitrator" on the issue, it added.

The WTO in Geneva has been wrestling with EU and US allegations and counter-allegations for the past 15 years that both sides were giving illegal bumps to their top aviation firms, Airbus and Boeing.

It said that both were guilty in a preliminary ruling in March.

The EU has also prepared a list of potential tariffs on €17.4bn of US imports, including coal, wine, and video games.

US-EU talks at the Paris Air Show last month gave hope they would settle the matter amicably.

But the dispute risks being caught up in a wider trade conflict after the US imposed tariffs on some EU metals exports and threatened to penalise EU cars.

The protectionist "America first" policy of US president Donald Trump saw the EU hit back with tariffs on US products, including bourbon.

"US companies - from farmers to suppliers to retailers - are already being negatively impacted by the imposition of retaliatory tariffs. Additional tariffs will only inflict further harm," the Distilled Spirits Council, a US trade lobby, said in reaction to Washington's latest WTO move on Monday.

"We strongly oppose the inclusion of distilled products in the proposed retaliation list ... Additional tariffs will only inflict further harm," it said.

The economic violence comes amid US-EU disputes on Iran nuclear arms, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Nato spending, Russian gas, and climate change in a nadir in post-World War Two transatlantic relations.

But when EU leaders meet at 11AM in Brussels on Tuesday on the third day of a rolling summit none of that will be on the agenda.

They will instead continue to bang heads over whose candidates should fill top posts in the EU institutions for the next five years.

And the French leader, Emmanuel Macron, pointed out the dangers of the EU's inward turn.

"We cannot hold talks with world leaders, in an ever more violent world, and be a club that meets at 28 without ever deciding anything," he told press while leaving the summit venue in Brussels on Monday.

"Our credibility is profoundly tainted with meetings that are too long and that yield nothing. We give an image of a Europe that is not serious", he said.

"What was lacking around the table was the spirit and determination to defend the general European interest. There were too many hidden agendas," he added.

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