US to hit EU with USD 7.5 billion in tariffs; mussels, clams among seafood products affected

The United States will impose tariffs valued at USD 7.5 billion (EUR 6.8 billion) against the European Union in what it says is a response to E.U. subsidies to aerospace firm Airbus that broke World Trade Organization rules.

The WTO approved the tariffs on 2 October, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has said they will come into force as early as 18 October. They include 10 percent tariffs on Airbus parts and 25 percent duties on other goods, including some food products. A majority of the products on the list are luxury food products such as cheese, olives, and wine. In the category of seafood, prepared or preserved mussels, clams, cockles, razor claims, and molluscs all will be hit with 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.  “Accordingly, the United States will begin applying WTO-approved tariffs on certain EU goods beginning 18 October. We expect to enter into negotiations with the European Union aimed at resolving this issue in a way that will benefit American workers.”  

Lighthizer said the U.S. has the authority to increase the tariffs at any time, or change the products affected.

The WTO’s 2 October ruling confirmed previous findings by the international trade body that the E.U. provided additional billions of euros in subsidized financing to Airbus. It calculated the amount of tariffs it would permit the U.S. to levy against the E.U. by estimating the sales lost by U.S.-based aircraft manufacturer Boeing as a result of the E.U. support of Airbus. Its decision is final and not subject to appeal.

On 3 October, U.S. President Donald Trump said called the WTO ruling  “a nice victory,” in a tweet.

In response to the U.S. announcement, European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom said new U.S. tariffs would be “short-sighted and counterproductive,” and said the E.U. may respond by levying retaliatory duties.

The United States sold around USD 319 billion (EUR 291.5 billion) in goods to the EU last year, the U.S. imported about USD 488 billion (EUR 445.2 billion) in products from the E.U. 


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