Europe’s USD 20 billion tariff countermeasure proposal puts US seafood in the firing line

A public consultation on a preliminary list of products from the United States on which the European Union may take countermeasures, in the context of the ongoing Boeing dispute at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), has been published by the European Commission (EC). 

The proposed tariffs are in response to the long-running dispute over subsidies paid by the United States to airplane-maker Boeing and by Europe to Airbus.

A range of U.S. exports into the E.U. are covered by Brussels’ list – from aircrafts to chemicals and agri-foods. In total, these goods are estimated at around USD 20 billion (EUR 17.7 billion). 

In terms of seafood, the many products currently listed for additional import duties if they are originating in the United States include frozen Atlantic, Danube, and Pacific salmon, frozen albacore and yellowfin tuna, frozen cod and Alaska pollock, frozen and live lobster, frozen coldwater shrimp, scallops, and squid.

In a statement, E.U. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said that European companies must be able to compete on fair and equal terms. 

“The recent WTO ruling on U.S. subsidies for Boeing is important in this respect. We must continue to defend a level playing-field for our industry. But let me be clear, we do not want a tit-for-tat," she said. "While we need to be ready with countermeasures in case there is no other way out, I still believe that dialogue is what should prevail between important partners such as the E.U. and the U.S., including in bringing an end to this long-standing dispute. The E.U. remains open for discussions with the U.S., provided these are without preconditions and aim at a fair outcome.”

The E.C. has request affirms it agrees that a WTO appointed arbitrator should determine the exact appropriate level of countermeasures. As such, the E.U. is taking steps towards requesting the arbitrator to resume its work. 

A final list, based on the products included in the current proposal, will be drawn up by the E.U. in the near future, taking into account the arbitrator's decision.


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