Published On: Thu, Oct 3rd, 2019

Donald Trump slaps £6billion trade tariffs on EU – Juncker begs US President to stop


United States trade officials have said levies would be set at a 10 percent rate for aircraft and 25 percent on agricultural and other items. Aircraft, Irish and Scotch Whiskies, cheeses and olives are all listed on the extensive register of goods, imported mainly from France, Germany, Spain and the UK, that Washington has decided to target. The move comes after the World Trade Organisation sanctioned the tariffs, which can begin from October 18, as part of a 15-year tussle between the US and EU over illegal subsidies for plane makers Airbus and Boeing.

Mr Trump told reporters: “It was a big win for the United States.”

US trade chief Robert Lighthizer said in a statement: “For years, Europe has been providing massive subsidies to Airbus that have seriously injured the US aerospace industry and our works.

“We expect to enter into negotiations with the European Union aimed at resolving this issue in a way will benefit American workers.”

The US had hoped to impose tariffs of around £9 billion in goods. But, the WTO reduced the figure by around a third, as it sanctioned the largest penalty of its kind in the organisation’s history.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump gets WTO go-ahead to slap £6bn tariffs on EU (Image: GETTY)

Mr Lighthizer said he expected to “enter into negotiations with the European Union aimed at resolving this issue in a way that will benefit American workers”.

In a bid to prevent a full-blown trade war, the European Commission claimed it hopes to reach a sensible, negotiated settlement.

A spokesman added: “But if the US decides to import WTO authorised countermeasures, it will be pushing the EU into a situation where we will have no other option than do the same.”

The Brussels-based EU executive has proposed tariffs worth £15 billion on US goods to the WTO and is awaiting authorisation.

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Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission’s outgoing president, said: “Trade wars are easy to start but escalate quickly and usually end badly.

“Whoever starts a trade war will end badly in his own camp. Europe will always defend free and fair trade, based on a level-playing field and reciprocity.

“We will not be naive but we are ready, willing and determined to do business. If someone is importing tariffs on our aviation sector, we will do exactly the same – exactly the same.”

He has urged the business community to attempt to talk to Mr Trump and ask him to drop the tariffs on EU goods.

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Is Donald Trump isolating the United States? (Image: EXPRESS)

“Our continents have been through tick and thin together, through different political cycles,” Mr Juncker told an audience of business leaders.

“The American-European friendship is not about hopes and dreams. It is a necessity.”

France urged the EU to respond “firmly” against the US if the tariffs come into force in the coming weeks.

Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, added “A friendly resolution to the Boeing/Airbus dispute is the best solution, and all the more so given that Europe could impose sanctions on the US next year.”

Germany’s Angela Merkel said: “A decision has been made based on international law through which Airbus will be affected unfortunately and we will see how the American will react.”

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, at a joint press conference with Mr Trump, said: “I wanted to take up with the President the importance of transatlantic cooperation.

“Well, we all know Europe needs the USA. But, I say that the USA needs also Europe.

“We know the price of everything. We should recognise also the value of everything. We share the same values: democracy, human rights, rule-based order. And in that, we are very similar.”



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