US to impose tariffs on EU aircraft and agricultural products

Key Points
  • The U.S. plans to impose tariffs on European Union goods including aircraft and agricultural products. 
  • The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative plans to release a list of goods as early as Wednesday night, and the duties are set to take effect Oct. 18. 
  • Airlines decried the move, which came on a day that markets fell amid concerns about a slowing global economy partly driven by the Trump administration's trade conflicts.
US government to impose tariffs on EU aircraft and agricultural products
US government to impose tariffs on EU aircraft and agricultural products

The U.S. will impose tariffs on European Union goods after a victory at the World Trade Organization, according to senior officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

The USTR released a list Wednesday of products it plans to target, intensifying the Trump administration's global trade battles. The duties would take effect Oct. 18. The duties include:

  • 10% tariffs on aircraft from France, Germany, Spain or the United Kingdom
  • 25% duties on single-malt Irish and Scotch whiskies, various garments and blankets from the U.K.
  • 25% tariffs on coffee and certain tools and machinery from Germany
  • 25% duties on various cheeses, olive oil and frozen meat from Germany, Spain and the U.K.
  • 25% tariffs on certain pork products, butter and yogurt from multiple countries

Earlier, the WTO gave the Trump administration the right to put tariffs on $7.5 billion in European goods. The U.S. had lodged complaints, first in 2004, over what it called illegal subsidies for aircraft maker Airbus by several European governments.

U.S. officials contend the EU has "no basis" to retaliate against the planned duties. The USTR said it asked the WTO to schedule an Oct. 14 meeting to approve a U.S. request to take the countermeasures against the EU. 

It was not immediately clear if the value of the products on the USTR list was $7.5 billion or less than that.

The action escalates conflicts the Trump administration has waged around the globe as it tries to get major trade partners to change their practices. The U.S. is locked in a trade war with China as it struggles to strike a new agreement with the world's second-largest economy.

The news of a widening trade conflict follows a day of trading when major U.S. stock indexes each fell more than 1.5% amid fears of a slowing economy. Investors have worried about sustained trade wars dragging on global growth and potentially pulling the U.S. into a recession.

Eric Cabanis | AFP | Getty Images

Airlines decried the move Wednesday. In a statement, Delta said, "Imposing tariffs on aircraft that U.S. companies have already committed to will inflict serious harm on U.S. airlines, the millions of Americans they employ and the traveling public." Meanwhile, JetBlue said that it is "concerned about the detrimental impact aircraft tariffs will have on the ability for low-cost carries like JetBlue to grow and compete."

Reacting to the WTO decision earlier, European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom said new U.S. tariffs would be "short-sighted and counterproductive." She left the door open to the EU levying retaliatory duties.

Trump has long decried what he calls unfair trade practices by the EU. His administration increased tensions with the bloc when he put tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Europe last year. In response, the EU slapped duties on about $3 billion in American goods, including bourbon and motorcycles.

Trump has also threatened duties on cars and auto imports from Europe. In May, the administration delayed those tariffs for up to six months.

The U.S. sent about $319 billion in goods to the EU countries combined in 2018, making them the largest American export market. The U.S. imported about $488 billion in products from the EU, and the nations combined are America's second-largest supplier of goods.

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