Monday

3rd Oct 2022

US to put tariffs on European whiskies, cheese

  • EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (l) managed to avert an escalation in trade disputes when meeting with US president Donald Trump in 2018 (Photo: European Commission)

The US will impose tariffs worth €6.8bn annually on European imports of whiskies, French wine, Italian cheese, and planes and plane parts in retaliation for illegal EU subsidies to airplane maker Airbus.

The new tariffs will come into force as early as 18 October, after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled on Wednesday (2 October) in a 15-year-long case that the US could retaliate for the EU subsidies.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The US plans to impose a 10 percent tariff on large civil aircraft from France, Germany, Spain and the UK.

It will also put 25 percent levies on other items including Irish and Scotch whiskies, olives, cheese, certain pork products, butter and yogurt, French wine and spirits.

There will be tariffs also on German and British camera parts, industrial microwave ovens, printed books, biscuits and waffles.

"Finally, after 15 years of litigation, the WTO has confirmed that the United States is entitled to impose countermeasures in response to the EU's illegal subsidies," US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

"We expect to enter into negotiations with the European Union aimed at resolving this issue in a way that will benefit American workers," he added.

The EU has said it would retaliate against the Airbus-linked tariffs, when next year the WTO is expected to rule on US subsidies to aircraft-maker Boeing.

'Short-sighted and counterproductive'

EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the EU is ready to work with the US on a "fair and balanced solution for our respective aircraft industries".

She added that the EU prefers to reach a negotiated settlement and that "countermeasures now would be short-sighted and counterproductive".

The legal battle over Boeing and Airbus subsidies started in 2004. Under WTO rules, the EU and US each have the right to punish the other.

The ruling by the WTO, an organisation which US president Donald Trump said he wants to leave, is testing already strained US-EU trade ties, and puts pressure on European economies as an expected economic downturn looms due partly to global trade disputes.

Transatlantic relations have deteriorated since Trump announced his "America First" approach to international ties, as Washington plans other tariffs against the EU on car parts in mid-November.

Trump has also slapped import duties on steel and aluminium from the EU and other allies, and also threatened tariffs on European cars.

Trump and EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker agreed in July 2018 not to escalate the trade disputes and enter into trade talks. But those talks have been stuck, as the US wants to open discussions on agricultural products which the EU refuses.

The WTO had earlier cut its trade growth forecast for this year to the weakest level in a decade, Bloomberg reported.

Incoming trade commissioner Phil Hogan said on Monday at his confirmation hearing in the European parliament that "it doesn't make sense" for the US to retaliate rather than enter into talks with the EU over the Boeing-Airbus subsidies case.

"It takes two to tango, and I'm ready to engage politically with the United States to resolve our trade differences," he said, warning that the "EU needs to stand up for itself".

Hogan sets out trade plans at commissioner grilling

Phil Hogan, the current agriculture commissioner, told MEPs the EU needs to defend itself in trade disputes but will try to work together with the US, if Washington is a willing partner.

EU envoy sheds light on weird US diplomacy

Remarks to Congress by the US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, have shed light on the unusual nature of American diplomacy under president Donald Trump.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Editor's weekly digest: A week of leaks
  2. Putin declares holy war on Western 'satanism'
  3. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  4. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  5. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'We are not going to resign ... anywhere'
  6. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  7. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  8. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us