The United States is threatening to impose around $11 billion worth of tariffs on goods from European Union countries – including cheese, wine and oysters – in retaliation for E.U. subsidies to European aeronautics company Airbus.
The U.S. has repeatedly condemned the subsidies, which they argue unfairly hurt Boeing, Airbus’ American competitor. In 2004 the U.S. complained to the World Trade Organization, which in May 2018 ruled that the E.U. had issued some illegal subsidies to Airbus.
U.S. Trade representative Robert Lighthizer claims the subsidies inflict roughly $11 billion worth of damage on Boeing and the U.S. economy. On Monday he issued a list of hundreds of goods categories that could be targeted by the new tariffs equalling that amount. The products threatened are wide-ranging and include Airbus aircraft, as well Swiss and Roquefort cheeses, clementines, hunting knives and wall clocks.
“When the E.U. ends these harmful subsidies, the additional U.S. duties imposed in response can be lifted,” Lighthizer said in a statement. The U.S. said it would wait for a final ruling from the W.T.O., expected “this summer”, on the value of countermeasures it could impose before announcing a final product list.
“The E.U. has taken advantage of the U.S. on trade for many years,” President Donald Trump tweeted after the announcement. “It will soon stop!”
The threats are the latest escalation in trade tensions between the U.S. and the E.U. In June last year, the U.S. introduced new levies on steel and aluminum imports from key allies, including the E.U. The bloc responded with its own tariffs on $3.4 billion worth of American goods, including whiskey, motorcycles and jeans.
Since July, the U.S. and E.U. have been in talks aimed at ending their disagreements over trade and eventually negotiating a trade deal. But U.S. officials have expressed frustration and the slow pace of progress, according to the Associated Press.