USA threatens tariffs on $11 billion of European goods over Airbus subsidies

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One in Washington D.C. U.S

On April 8, 2019, the United States Trade Representative said it began the process of imposing additional tariffs on a list of EU-made products including large civilian aircraft (hint: Airbus) and their parts.

"When the European Union ends these harmful subsidies, the additional USA duties imposed in response can be lifted", he said. The suggested tariff amount is subject to an arbitration at the World Trade Organization, which is expected to be issued this summer.

The US Trade Representative said the proposed move would be in retaliation for European Union subsidies to Airbus, the aeroplane and defence company, which the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have found to have caused adverse effects to the United States.

A simmering transatlantic trade row risked escalating on Tuesday after the USA threatened to impose tariff counter-measures of up to $11.2 billion on a host of European products. "When the European Union ends these harmful subsidies, the additional US duties imposed in response can be lifted". "It will soon stop!"

For more than 14 years, Washington and Brussels have accused each other of unfairly subsidising Boeing and Airbus, respectively, in a tit-for-tat dispute that long predates Mr. Trump's tenure in the White House.

The proposed tariffs come almost 15 years after the US first complained to the WTO that Airbus had widely benefited from billions of dollars in illegal subsidies.

Jennifer Hillman, a former USA trade official who also served on the WTO's appellate body, said the US government typically would announce the target list quietly, perhaps through a notice in the Federal Register.

"The Administration is preparing to respond immediately when the WTO issues its finding on the value of USA countermeasures".

The case, which has been grinding its way through the World Trade Organization for nearly 15 years, is approaching the final stages of arbitration.

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"The EU remains open for discussions with the United States, provided these are without preconditions and aim at a fair outcome", the spokesperson added.

Last year, the U.S. started charging levies on the imports of steel and aluminium from key allies including the EU. Airbus suppliers such as Safran SA and Leonardo SpA also closed lower.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told a conference in Paris that the two sides needed to reach a friendly agreement.

"You're scaring a lot of importers" who see the products they bring into the United States on the target list, said Hillman, who now teaches law at Georgetown University.

Germany is particularly apprehensive of possible US tariffs on vehicle imports.

European officials underscored the option of reaching a negotiated solution with the USA that would avoid an escalation with tit-for-tat tariffs.

The USTR said Monday that once that report is issued it will announce a finalized product list for tariffs, but it has already published an extensive list of items being considered, and sought public feedback.

While the size of the tariffs is small compared with the hundreds of billions the USA and China are taxing in their trade war, it suggests a breakdown in talks with the European Union over trade at a time when the economy is already slowing sharply.

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