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EU ‘regrets’ new US tariffs, looks to Biden

By AFP & Monitoring Desk
January 13, 2021

Brussels: The EU regretted a new wave of US tariffs on French and German products that came into force on Tuesday and said it would seek a trade truce with the incoming Biden administration.

The tariffs are yet another chapter in a 16-year spat over subsidies for aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing that turned increasingly sour under US President Donald Trump.

French exporters were hit with hiked tariffs on wine and cognac, while Germany saw new levies on aeronautic parts.

"The Commission takes note of today´s entry into force of U.S. tariffs arising from the WTO Airbus case on aircraft subsidies," a statement said.

The EU executive handles trade matters for the bloc´s 27 member states.

"As we have made clear before, we regret that the United States chose to add further EU products to its retaliation list," it said.

The EU is "looking forward to engage constructively with the new U.S. administration to resolve this long lasting dispute as part of a renewed transatlantic agenda", it added.

French wine and sprits exporters believe the new tariffs will cost the sector one billion euros in sales, with the cognac business especially punished.

In its last days in office, the Trump administration is blowing hot and cold on trade issues with the Europeans.

Washington last week suspended a plan to impose new tariffs on $1.3 billion in French products in a dispute over a digital services tax.

The U.S. imposed an additional 15 percent tariff on aircraft parts, including fuselage and wing assemblies, and a 25 percent duty on certain wines.

Talks between Washington and Brussels to end the battle stalled in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a European source familiar with the matter said.

Washington had also pressed to reach a separate solution with Britain, which has a share in Airbus, but has exited the EU.

Brussels said it would seek swift resolution of the issue with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on January 20. The Biden team had no immediate comment on the tariff issue.

Both Washington and Brussels have won cases at the World Trade Organization, the former allowed to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion of EU goods and the latter extra duties on $4 billion of imports from the United States.

Airbus said USTR’s expansion of tariffs to include aircraft components made in France and Germany was “counterproductive” and would wind up harm U.S. workers at its Mobile, Alabama site where it assembles A320 and A220 aircraft.

The measure will hit A320 production which uses components from France and Germany, while the A220 production does not, according to an Airbus spokesman.