Proposed US tariffs on EU seafood products nearing end of consultation period

Published on
July 28, 2020

A bevy of seafood products from the European Union could be the target of new tariffs by the United States, stemming from a dispute over European subsidies for Airbus.

Starting in October, several mainly premium goods from the E.U. – such as Scotch whisky, cashmere, cheeses, and others – have carried a 25 percent tariff, with salmon and other seafood products barely avoiding a tariff in the trade spat. The tariffs stem from U.S. criticisms of what it calls over-subsidization of Airbus by European governments, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) allowing the U.S. to take USD 7.5 billion (EUR 6.3 billion) in retaliatory tariffs, BBC news reported.

The tariffs have already been impacting certain seafood products from Europe from other regions – prepared or preserved mussels, clams, cockles, razor claims, and molluscs have all been hit with the 25 percent tariffs, according to a list released by the USTR.

“For years, Europe has been providing massive subsidies to Airbus that have seriously injured the U.S. aerospace industry and our workers. 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,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said at the time. 

Now, the WTO has agreed to even more U.S. claims about Airbus subsidies, opening the door for more potential tariffs. That means more seafood products could be on the chopping block. In June, the U.S. Trade Representative put out a notice that it is considering expanding the potential items being tariffed. The majority of the seafood items were considered for tariffs in the first round implemented in October, but were subsequently excluded from tariffs.

Included on that list of new products that could be tariffed are:

  • Swordfish steaks
  • Frozen swordfish fillets
  • Salmon fillets, fresh or chilled, and prepared or preserved salmon, whole or in pieces
  • Trout fillets, fresh or chilled
  • Frozen crabmeat; crabs, cooked in shell or uncooked, dried, salted in brine, or frozen
  • Herrings, prepared or preserved, whole or in pieces, but not minced
  • Lobster, prepared or preserved
  • Oysters: As fish meat, or prepared meals; smoked; or prepared and preserved but not smoked
  • Scallops, including queen scallops, both prepared or preserved, and as containing fish meat or prepared meals
  • Cuttlefish and squid, both prepared or preserved, and as containing fish meat prepared meals
  • Octopus, both prepared and preserved, and as containing fish meat or prepared meals
  • Abalone, both prepared and preserved, and as containing fish meat or prepared meals

A decision on the products is expected to take place some time after 12 August, when a U.S. consultation ends.

Photo courtesy of barmalini/Shutterstock 

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