European leaders and merchants on Thursday slammed Trump administration plans to impose hefty tariffs on a wide array of European goods after the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the United States in a long-brewing dispute over subsidies for European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.
Pending final approval from the WTO later this month, the Trump administration intends to impose tariffs on about $7.5 billion in European goods, including certain Italian cheeses, British-made cashmere sweaters and, one of President Trump’s favorite targets, French wines. The tariffs — as high as 25 percent on agricultural and industrial products — could take effect as soon as Oct. 18, exacerbating concerns over a possible transatlantic trade war.
Ulrich Adam, director general of Europe’s largest spirits lobby, decried the White House’s decision as a misguided step that targets industries unrelated to the core of the growing U.S.-E.U. trade dispute, which centers on aircraft manufacturers.
“As a totally unrelated sector, it is unacceptable for the spirits producers having to pay the price for a dispute that is essentially about civil aircraft subsidies,” Adam said in a statement released Thursday. “It is particularly irritating to see that unrelated sectors like ours will be hit by an extra 25 percent tariffs when the sector at stake will only be imposed a 10 percent rate!”
The Trump administration plans to impose tariffs of 10 percent on European aircraft.
Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Union’s top trade official, said in a statement after the WTO decision on Wednesday that, regardless of the ruling, her department opposes retaliatory U.S. countermeasures.
“We remain of the view that even if the United States obtains authorization from the WTO Dispute Settlement Body, opting for applying countermeasures now would be shortsighted and counterproductive,” she said.
Countermeasures, Malmstrom continued, “would only inflict damage on businesses and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic, and harm global trade and the broader aviation industry at a sensitive time.”
The E.U., meanwhile, is waiting on a separate WTO ruling next year over the complaint it lodged that Boeing, a U.S. manufacturer and Airbus’s principal rival, has likewise benefited from illegal government suppor
Trump, meanwhile, celebrated the WTO ruling as a “victory.”
“The U.S. won a $7.5 Billion award from the World Trade Organization against the European Union, who has for many years treated the USA very badly on Trade due to Tariffs, Trade Barriers, and more,” he wrote on Twitter early Thursday. “This case going on for years, a nice victory!”
In July, French President Emmanuel Macron signed into law legislation that grants the French government the authority to levy special taxes on certain revenue that large U.S. tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple generate in France.
That move angered Trump, who immediately threatened a trade war through proposed tariffs on French wines specifically.
“They shouldn’t have done this,” Trump, a self-professed teetotaler, told reporters at the time. “I told them, I said, ‘Don’t do it because if you do it, I’m going to tax your wine.’ ”
That threat did not sit well in France, where wines are among the most cherished national symbols. “I’ve always liked American wines better than French wines — even though I don’t drink wine,” Trump said in July. “I just like the way they look, okay?”
Anxieties over tariffs have also inspired dramatic gestures in Europe, especially in the presence of U.S. officials. Earlier this week, for instance, an Italian satirical journalist interrupted a meeting between Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to offer a pound and a half of authentic Italian cheese to Pompeo.
“This is Parmigiano-Reggiano, and this is what we make best in Italy,” she said.
European officials urged a peaceful resolution of the dispute within the framework of the WTO.
“An amicable resolution of the Boeing/Airbus litigation is the right solution,” France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said on Twitter in response to the WTO ruling. “US sanctions would be an economic and political mistake.
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