U.S. targets Airbus as it raises import tariffs on European Union aircraft

Marco Green
February 15, 2020

The office of the United States Trade Representative made the tariff announcement just days after President Donald Trump said it was time to talk "very seriously" about a trade deal with the European Union.

The duties have been at 10% since October, when Washington slapped tariffs on US$7.5 billion of European products.

The German Finance Ministry said it has taken note of the move by the U.S. and reiterated its stance on tariffs.

After a trade war with China that lasted almost two years and featured punishing reciprocal tariffs, Trump declared at the signing of a "phase one" trade deal with Beijing in January that it was a "momentous step ... righting the wrongs of the past".

European planemaker Airbus AIR.PA said the US move would hit USA airlines already facing a shortage of aircraft and complicate efforts to reach a negotiated settlement with the European Union in the longstanding dispute.

Airbus, in turn, signalled its readiness to continue discussing the matter with U.S. counterparts to "mitigate effects of tariffs insofar as possible", voicing hope that the USTR would change its stance on the issue.

Airbus said the latest decision also "ignores the many submissions made by United States airlines, highlighting the fact that they - and the U.S. flying public - will ultimately have to pay these tariffs".

The US' additional 10-percent tariff targeted the import of large European civil aircraft from Europe, which mainly consist of Airbus planes.

But a transatlantic trade peace has proved elusive and U.S. officials say the EU's overtures have been unacceptable.

Boeing, in a statement, said it was working with us federal and state officials to "promptly bring the United States into full compliance" with WTO rulings.

"The EU and Airbus could end these tariffs by finally complying with their legal obligations, ending these illegal subsidies, and addressing their ongoing harm".

The Airbus complaint to the WTO estimates damages at $12 billion per year resulting from what the company claims were effectively USA subsidies to Boeing for the development of its passenger jets.

Airbus said on Saturday that it "deeply regretted" the USA decision, which it said would hurt American airlines and their customers. Both have claimed such assistance by the other side are illegal.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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