The tariff battle between the US and the European Union (EU) will experience a new chapter this Wednesday, August 12, when the Government of President Donald Trump will have to decide whether to take another step with new levies on various European products, such as wine and olives.
The Office of the Foreign Trade Representative (USTR) opened months ago a period of public consultations about the relevance of this new measure of commercial pressure, which could mean raising current tariffs by between 10% and 25% to 100%.
Products potentially affected include Scotch whiskey, Spanish and French wine, and Greek and Spanish olives.
Consulted by Efe, the office headed by Robert Lighthizer, avoided offering details.
August 12 is the deadline for making a decision about keeping or raising them.
Trump, who has made protectionism one of his political pillars, has also not referred to the issue, although he has insisted on his criticism of the EU, considering that it is commercially taking advantage of the US.
TARIFFS AS A POLITICAL WEAPON
Despite Trump’s insistence on the effectiveness of tariffs as a commercial weapon, businessmen have shown their misgivings, especially in the midst of the serious economic crisis that the country is experiencing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At a time when the hospitality industry is fighting for its life, any additional tariffs will have catastrophic and aggravating effects for years to come, a brutal blow to many,” said Michelle Korsmo, President of the Wholesalers Association. US Wines and Spirits, in a recent statement.
The shadow of a possible rise grew last week with Trump’s surprise announcement to apply a 10% tariff on Canadian aluminum, just a month after ratifying the new trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada.
The move angered the government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and fanned Washington’s drums of trade war with traditional allies.
The measure is the latest episode in the trade dispute between the European Union (EU) and the US as a result of the conflict over subsidies received by the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus to the detriment of its US rival Boeing.
In a long-awaited arbitration ruling, the World Trade Organization (WTO) determined last October the adverse effects for Boeing in relation to five aircraft sales campaigns that Airbus won between 2011 and 2013, and which it considered that the US manufacturer had gained from there have been no subsidies for the European.
For this reason, the WHO gave the green light to the United States to impose levies on products from the EU and the United Kingdom for about 7.5 billion dollars.
In June, Airbus announced that it was waiving preferential conditions in the loans granted by Spain and France for the construction of its A350 aircraft, which were considered by the WTO as illegal aid.
Following the adoption of this measure, the European Trade Commissioner, Phil Hogan, in July asked Washington to lift these “unjustified” tariffs.
“The European Union has made specific proposals to reach a negotiated settlement in the long-running transatlantic disputes of civil aircraft manufacturers and remains open to working with the US to reach a fair and balanced solution,” Hogan said.
The EU and the US are traditional allies, but since Trump’s arrival at the White House in January 2017, mutual trust has been broken and both Washington and Brussels view actions on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean with suspicion.
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