US handbags, ketchup on $20bn EU tariff list over subsidy dispute

The EU has declared itself ready to start formal trade talks with the US amid the subsidies dispute over Boeing and its European rival Airbus. (AFP)
Updated 17 April 2019
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US handbags, ketchup on $20bn EU tariff list over subsidy dispute

  • The Trump administration last week proposed targeting a seven-page list of EU products for tariffs
  • Both sides have said they would prefer a settlement that did not lead to the imposition of tariffs

BRUSSELS: Handbags, tractors, shovels and fish are part of an 11-page list of US imports worth $20 billion that the EU on Wednesday said it could hit with tariffs in a transatlantic aircraft subsidy dispute.
The US and the EU have been battling for almost 15 years at the World Trade Organization over subsidies given to US planemaker Boeing and its European rival Airbus.
After partial victories for both sides, each is asking a WTO arbitrator to determine the level of countermeasures they can impose on the other.
The Trump administration last week proposed targeting a seven-page list of EU products for tariffs, ranging from large aircraft to dairy products and wine, to counteract the harm from EU subsidies for Airbus worth an estimated $11 billion.
Brussels has responded with its own list of some $20 billion worth of US imports, including agricultural produce from dried fruit to ketchup, planes, fish, tobacco, handbags, suitcases, tractors, helicopters and video game consoles.
The published list will now be open to consultation until May 31 and could then be revised.
“The EU remains open for discussions with the US, provided these are without preconditions and aim at a fair outcome,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement.
In both cases, WTO arbitrators have yet to set an amount, but the US case against Airbus is more advanced, with a ruling possible in June or July. The EU case against Boeing could come early in 2020.
Both sides have said they would prefer a settlement that did not lead to the imposition of tariffs.
The EU has meanwhile declared itself ready to start formal trade talks with the US.
The Commission is set to start two sets of negotiations — one to cut tariffs on industrial goods, the other to make it easier for companies to show products meet EU or US standards.
However, it has insisted that agriculture not be included, putting the 28-country bloc at odds with Washington, which wants farm products to be part of the talks.


Gulf countries strengthen oil coordination amid tensions: Kuwait

Updated 20 May 2019
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Gulf countries strengthen oil coordination amid tensions: Kuwait

  • ‘It is normal amid this escalation that Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries take these steps’
  • Kuwait was in ‘constant contact’ with its ally, the US

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said countries in the Gulf have strengthened coordination to provide oil to global markets amid increased regional tensions.
“It is normal amid this escalation that Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries take these steps,” Khalid Al-Jarallah told reporters late Sunday on the sidelines of a Ramadan sit-down organized by the Iraqi embassy.
“There is cooperation and coordination between Kuwait and the Gulf countries to provide guarantees for oil tankers and continuous supply of energy to global markets.”
Jarallah’s comments come days after sabotage attacks against tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and the bombing of a Saudi pipeline — the latter claimed by Iran-aligned Yemeni rebels.
Both attacks targeted routes built as alternatives to the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for almost all Gulf exports.
The US Fifth Fleet headquartered in Bahrain said the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council began “enhanced security patrols” Saturday in international waters, in “tight coordination with the US navy.”
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of war with the United States, which earlier this month announced it was sending an aircraft carrier and strike group to the region.
Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said “tension was escalating quickly” but he remained hopeful.
He added Kuwait was in “constant contact” with its ally, the US.
On Saturday, OPEC giant Saudi Arabia called for urgent meetings of the GCC and the Arab League to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences” in the region.
The two summits are scheduled to be held in Makkah on May 30.
Jarallah welcomed the kingdom’s invitation, saying Kuwait was keen to take part in discussions on issues “potentially dangerous” to the region.