Thursday, President Trump hailed as a “nice victory” when the United States got the Green light to place tariffs on European Union goods in a row over EU aircraft subsidies.
Wednesday’s decision by the WTO left Scottish whisky makers, Spanish winemakers and French cheesemakers fuming as the US tariffs targeted products from countries in the Airbus (OTCMKT:EDASF) consortium.
Engineers in Germany worried that the row over subsidies granted to the European planemaker was leading to “a table tennis match” over transatlantic tariffs, and France warned of retaliation by the EU.
The WTO decision gave the United States the go-ahead to impose tariffs on $7.5-B worth of EU goods annually in the long-running case.
The dispute darkens the global economic outlook, which already has the cloud of the U.S.-China trade dispute hanging over it. Washington and Beijing have imposed tariffs on each other’s goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
President said on Twitter the EU “has for many years treated the USA very badly on Trade due to Tariffs, Trade Barriers, and more. This case going on for years, a nice victory!”
Washington said that, after 15 yrs of litigation, it would impose 10% tariffs on Airbus planes, a move that could hurt orders by US airlines, and 25% duties on French wine, Scotch and Irish whiskies, and cheese from across the continent.
Scotch whisky exports to the United States, the industry’s biggest single market, were worth $1.23-B last year.
“If the American administration rejects the hand that has been held out by France and the European Union, we are preparing ourselves to react with sanctions,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
Britain said it was seeking confirmation from the WTO that it had complied with the organization’s rulings and should not face tariffs.
Germany’s VDMA engineering association said it was disappointed the European Commission, the EU executive, had not defused the row. “The current situation resembles a table tennis match,” said a VDMA trade expert.
Cheese from nearly every EU country will also be hit with the 25% tariffs, but Italian wine and olive oil were spared, along with European chocolate.
“Dairy products are going to be directly hit… we are going to fight for these measures to be delayed,” said the spokesman for France’s Lactalis group, the world’s biggest dairy firm, which makes butter and cheeses under the President label.
There was relief for some who had expected to be drawn into the row but were not.
Shares in European luxury goods, including British fashion brand Burberry, and drinks companies, such as France’s Remy Cointreau, rose Thursday, after the tariffs excluded cognac, champagne and leather goods.
The size and scope of the tariffs were reduced considerably from a $25-B list floated by Washington this year that included helicopters, major aircraft components, seafood and luxury goods.
But the USTR also issued a warning.
“The US has the authority to increase the tariffs at any time, or change the products affected. USTR will continually re-evaluate these tariffs based on our discussions with the EU,” it said.
Airbus and Boeing, the world’s 2 largest planemakers, have waged a war of attrition over subsidies at the WTO since Y 2004. The dispute has tested the trade police’s influence and is expected to set the tone for competition from would-be rivals from China.
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