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

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.


Middle East airlines’ passenger traffic nosedive in April

Updated 3 min 40 sec ago

Middle East airlines’ passenger traffic nosedive in April

  • UAE-based Emirates and Etihad Airways will resume some transit flights
  • IATA said the global demand for air services is starting to show recovery

DUBAI: Passenger traffic for Middle East airlines plummeted 97.3 percent in April, versus a less-steeper dive of 50.3 percent a month earlier, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a report.
“April was a disaster for aviation as air travel almost entirely stopped. But April may also represent the nadir of the crisis,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said in a statement
“Flight numbers are increasing. Countries are beginning to lift mobility restrictions. And business confidence is showing improvement in key markets such as China, Germany, and the US.”
UAE-based Emirates and Etihad Airways will resume some transit flights after the country lifted a suspension on services where passengers stop off in the country to change planes, or for refueling.
Emirates, one of the world’s biggest long-haul airlines, would operate transit flights to 29 destinations in Asia, Europe and North America by June 15 while Etihad would carry transit passengers to 20 cities in Europe, Asia and Australia from June 10.
With aircraft of Middle East airlines grounded, and replicated globally due to the coronavirus pandemic, capacity tumbled 92.3 percent while the load factor decreased to 27.9 percent in April.
But IATA said the global demand for air services is starting to show recovery “after hitting bottom in April.”
There “are positive signs are we start to rebuild the industry from a stand-still. The initial green shoots will take time – possibly years – to mature,” de Juniac added.
Meanwhile, the Abu-Dhabi based carrier will extend salary cuts for employees until September even as other UAE airlines Emirates and Air Arabia confirmed job cuts due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Etihad is continuing to consider all options to protect jobs and preserve cash at this challenging time. Regretfully, Etihad has extended its salary reduction until September 2020, with 25 percent reduction for junior staff and cabin crew, and 50 percent for employees at manager level and above. Housing allowance and a number of benefits continue to be paid,” a statement from Etihad said.