Published: Fri, April 19, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

European Union targets USA agriculture exports in proposed tariffs

European Union targets USA agriculture exports in proposed tariffs

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

Amid an increasingly bitter dispute with USA aerospace giant, Boeing, the European Commission laid the groundwork on Wednesday for imposing retaliatory tariffs on €18 billion worth of American imports, a move that comes after the WTO said that the United States had failed to remove some Boeing subsidies.

After partial victories for both sides, each is asking a WTO arbitrator to determine the level of countermeasures they can impose on the other. The EU estimated in 2012 that the damage from Boeing subsidies was roughly $12 billion.

The feud has been caught in the protectionist wave launched by US President Donald Trump against Europe, with a threat by Washington to slam tariffs on vehicle imports still looming.

The Trump administration earlier this month threatened tariffs in response to subsidies received by aircraft maker Airbus that target a host of European products including helicopters, aircraft parts and gouda cheese.

"The recent WTO ruling on US subsidies for Boeing is important in this respect", Malmstrom said.

Tomato ketchup, handbags and video game consoles are among the United States imports facing EU tariffs, as the European bloc hit back in the latest twist in the transatlantic dispute over aircraft subsidies.

The list published covers a range of items, that overall represent around 20 billion US dollars of United States exports into the European Union, from aircraft to chemicals and notably agri-food products such as frozen fish, citrus fruits and ketchup.

The commission's list is now open to consultation, to allow those impacted to make their pitch for a rethink.

On April 9, the USA floated the idea of slapping tariffs on $11bn worth of products from the EU.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the EU wants to avoid "tit-for-tat" action in the long-running dispute and that the world's biggest trading bloc "remains open for discussions with the US, provided these are without preconditions and aim at a fair outcome".

Arbitrators at the WTO have yet to set the costs that either the USA or the European Union might seek to recover through tariffs, but Washington's case against Airbus is more advanced and a ruling is expected in June or July.

Both sides have said they would prefer a settlement that did not lead to tariffs being imposed. The Commission is set to start two sets of negotiations - one to cut tariffs on industrial goods, the other to help companies demonstrate that their products meet European Union and USA quality standards.

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