EU ‘very concerned’ by delayed WTO decision on tariffs against the US

The WTO logo is pictured against a traffic light standing in front of the WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 09 December 2019, during the opening of the World Trade Organization (WTO) General Council. [EPA-EFE/SALVATORE DI NOLFI]

A delay to a decision on whether the European Union can impose tariffs against the United States over subsidies for Boeing is unjustified and harms the bloc’s right to retaliate, the European Commission said on Thursday (25 June).

The World Trade Organisation has pushed back the decision, originally expected in May or June, to at least September due to the impact that recent coronavirus lockdowns are having on its work, people familiar with the case told Reuters on Wednesday.

“The EU is very concerned about this and we have communicated this to the WTO,” a Commission spokesman said.

“We believe that the delay would not be justified, even in the context of COVID-19 and that it would be detrimental to the EU’s retaliatory rights under WTO rules,” he continued.

The United States already won the right last October to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion of EU goods in a related case over subsidies for European planemaker Airbus.

WTO allows US to hit EU exports with record tariffs over Airbus case

The World Trade Organisation authorised the United States on Wednesday (2 October) to impose tariffs on EU goods worth up to $7.5 billion (€6.8 billion), as a response to illegal subsidies given by European governments to aerospace giant Airbus.

The European Union says it wants to reach an agreement with Washington over plane subsidies to set aside the dispute. However, observers do not believe that will happen until the WTO awards the EU the right to impose tariffs.

The US tariffs target planes, olives, tools and whisky from Airbus-producing countries Britain, France, Germany and Spain and cheese, wine and pork from across the bloc.

It increased the tariff rates in February and is now looking at an additional list of $3.1 billion worth of products such as bakery goods, beer, gin and vodka from the four countries that it could impose duties on next.

US slams tariffs on EU goods, targeting Airbus, wine and whisky

The United States imposed tariffs on a record $7.5-billion worth of European Union goods on Friday (18 October), despite threats of retaliation, with Airbus, French wine and Scottish whiskies among the high-profile targets.

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