US increasing tariffs on Airbus planes to 15 percent

An airport worker guides a Delta Air Lines Airbus A319-100 plane on the tarmac at LAX in Los Angeles, California, on Jan. 6, 2020. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo)
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Updated 15 February 2020

US increasing tariffs on Airbus planes to 15 percent

  • Airbus says higher US tariffs on EU planes will harm US airlines, consumers
  • Trump wants EU member states to further open their markets to American products, particularly agricultural goods

WASHINGTON: The United States is increasing tariffs on Airbus planes imported from Europe to 15 percent beginning March 18, authorities announced Friday.
The duties have been at 10 percent since October, when Washington hit $7.5 billion in European products with tariffs.
The announcement from the office of the United States Trade Representative came just days after President Donald Trump said it was time to talk “very seriously” about a trade deal with the European Union.
Washington imposed punitive taxes on the $7.5 billion in European products after the World Trade Organization (WTO) gave the United States a green light to take retaliatory trade measures against the EU over its subsidies to European aerospace giant Airbus.
Other products — including wine, cheese, coffee and olives — have been taxed at 25 percent since October.
Industry executives in Europe and the United States are on tenterhooks awaiting each new announcement from trade authorities.
“It has become abundantly clear that tariffs on distilled spirits products are causing rough seas on both sides of the Atlantic,” the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States said in a statement Friday.
The council called on authorities to withdraw 25 percent taxes on American whiskeys in the EU, and 25 percent taxes on liquors imported from five European countries, pointing to fears of a negative impact on the US economy and jobs.
But Trump, a real estate developer turned politician, sees tariffs as a negotiating tool.
After a trade war with China that lasted nearly two years and featured punishing reciprocal tariffs, Trump declared at the signing of a “phase one” trade deal with Beijing in January that it was a “momentous step ... righting the wrongs of the past.”
Airbus said the US government’s decision will hit US airlines already facing a shortage of aircraft and complicate efforts to reach a negotiated settlement with the European Union.
The European planemaker said it would continue discussions with its US customers to “mitigate effects of tariffs insofar as possible” and hoped the US Trade Representative’s office would change its position.
“USTR’s decision ignores the many submissions made by US airlines, highlighting the fact that they – and the US flying public – ultimately have to pay these tariffs,” the company said in a statement.
Trump has now turned his sights to Europe though relations remain tense as Washington brandishes the threat of taxing European auto imports, a move targeting Germany, Europe’s biggest auto exporter.
Trump wants EU member states to further open their markets to American products, particularly agricultural goods.
He has also threatened to hike tariffs on French wine — currently taxed at 25 percent — even further unless there is a deal on a digital tax which European nations want to impose on American giants such as Amazon and Facebook.


Saudi minister: OPEC+ will take responsible approach to virus

Updated 46 min 46 sec ago

Saudi minister: OPEC+ will take responsible approach to virus

  • Saudi Arabia supports the further oil production cut, but Russia is yet to announce its final position on the matter

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Tuesday he was confident that OPEC and its partner oil-producing nations, the so-called OPEC+ group, would respond responsibly to the spread of the coronavirus.

He also said Saudi Arabia and Russia would continue to engage regarding oil policy.

“Everything serious requires being attended to,” the minister, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, told reporters at an industry conference in Riyadh.

An OPEC+ committee this month recommended the group deepen its output cuts by an additional 600,000 barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia supports the further oil production cut, but Russia is yet to announce its final position on the matter.

The minister said he was still talking with Moscow and that he was confident of Riyadh’s partnership with the rest of the OPEC+ group.

“We did not run out of ideas, we have not closed our phones. There is always a good way of communicating through conference calls,” he said.

Regarding the coronavirus, which has impacted OPEC member Iran, he said OPEC+ members should not be complacent about the virus but added he was confident every OPEC+ member was a responsible and responsive producer.

The flu-like SARS-CoV-2 virus, which first broke out in China, has now spread to more than 20 countries.

“Of course there is an impact and we are assessing, but we’ll do whatever we can in our next meeting and we’ll address that issue,” UAE Energy Minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei said at the same industry conference.

Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser on Monday said he expected a short-lived impact on oil demand.

“We think this is short term and I am confident that in the second half of the year there is going to be an improvement on the demand side, especially from China,” he said.

Oil climbed on Tuesday as investors sought bargains after crude benchmarks slumped almost 4 percent in the previous session, although concerns about the global spread of the virus capped gains.