The transatlantic trade dispute between the United States and the European Union – started primarily because of the allegations of European subsidies to Airbus, took a new and surprising turn after the Brussels decided has reportedly decided to impose import tariffs on tomato ketchup, handbags and video game consoles, among other goods, that are imported from US.
Threats of tariffs on US imports worth $20bn were issued by the European commission on Wednesday while it made public a list of US goods that covered 11 pages that could face high import tariffs in the EU. That list also included aircraft and tractors. This move was made following a ruling by the World Trade Organization ruling against the US last month.
The threat from the EU is also believed to be in response to a list of European goods hat US president Donald Trump wanted to tax and were issued as a seven-page list last week. That list included a host of goods ranging from tariffs on large aircraft to dairy products and wine. This move by the Trump administration came as a reaction to what the US claims is the cause of $11bn of harm the US government – government subsidies to European aircraft maker Airbus. This also followed a WTO ruling against Airbus subsidies.
“The EU has taken advantage of the US on trade for many years. It will soon stop,” Trump tweeted last week.
Arguing against the US claims, the EU counter claim alleged that $12bn worth of damage to Airbus was cause because of tax breaks to Boeing by the US government in addition to unfair procurement practices. This issue has been ongoing at the WTO for almost 15 years.
She wanted to avoid a tit-for-tat trade war with Washington, said the EU’s trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmström. She also urged Trump to start a process of negotiation. “European companies must be able to compete on fair and equal terms,” she said. “The recent WTO ruling on US 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. 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 EU and the US, including in bringing an end to this longstanding dispute.”
“The EU remains open for discussions with the US, provided these are without preconditions and aim at a fair outcome,” she added.
The list prepared by the Commission would now be debated upon as the EU wants those affected to voice their views.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)