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Thursday, December 31, 2020, 18:49
US slaps tariffs on French & German wines, aircraft parts
By Reuters
Thursday, December 31, 2020, 18:49 By Reuters

In this Dec 3, 2019 photo, bottles of French wine are displayed for sale in a liquor store in Arlington, Virginia. (OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP)

WASHINGTON - The US government on Wednesday said it would raise tariffs on certain European Union (EU) products, including aircraft components and wines from France and Germany, the latest twist in a 16-year battle over aircraft subsidies between Washington and Brussels.

The new tariffs are the latest action in the 16-year US-EU dispute over civil aviation subsidies involving European aircraft company Airbus SE and its US-based rival Boeing Co

In a statement, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said it was adding tariffs on aircraft manufacturing parts and certain non-sparkling wines as well as cognacs and other brandies from France and Germany.

The USTR did not say when the tariffs would take effect but noted that additional details would be “forthcoming”

ALSO READ: EU set to impose tariffs on US$4b US goods next week

The US action comes as US and European negotiators continue talks about ending the long-runnig dispute over government aid to Europe’s Airbus SE, which is politically backed by Britain, France, Germany and Spain, and US aid to planemaker Boeing Co.

The USTR said on Wednesday the EU had unfairly calculated tariffs against the United States allowed by a September World Trade Organization ruling in the ongoing dispute: “The EU needs to take some measure to compensate for this unfairness.”

The European Commission said on Thursday that new US tariffs on EU products disrupted ongoing negotiations with Washington to resolve a 16-year battle over aircraft subsidies and it hoped to find a swift solution with the next US president, Joe Biden.

The Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 27-nation European Union, said it regretted the US action, which “unilaterally” disrupted ongoing talks about subsidies for European planemaker Airbus and US rival Boeing.

“The EU will engage with the new US administration at the earliest possible moment to continue these negotiations and find a lasting solution to the dispute,” it said in an emailed statement.

READ MORE: US targets US$3.1 billion of EU, UK imports for new tariffs

Ben Aneff, president of the US Wine Trade Alliance, said the action would cause further hardship for US companies already hit hard by previous tariffs, and urged President-elect Joe Biden to quickly reverse course.

“This action is a body blow for American companies. US restaurants and small businesses are already struggling to survive; this decision will only destroy more jobs and shutter more doors,” said Aneff, managing partner of Tribeca Wine Merchants in New York City.

Emily Haber, Germany’s ambassador to the United States, this month urged quick action to resolve the dispute, calling it a distraction from bigger issues that require joint action such as climate change and the pandemic.


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