EU will ‘stand firm’ against Washington over trade disputes

EU will ‘stand firm’ against Washington over trade disputes
An airport staff walks behind parked planes of the Airbus factory Hamburg-Finkenwerder at the Erfurt-Weimar airport in Erfurt, Germany. (AP/File)
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Updated 07 July 2020

EU will ‘stand firm’ against Washington over trade disputes

EU will ‘stand firm’ against Washington over trade disputes
  • Issues dating back to 2004 over subsidies for Airbus and Boeing are drawing to a conclusion at WTO

BRUSSELS: The EU will take decisive action against the US if it is unwilling to settle a long-running row over aircraft subsidies and presses ahead with a series of new trade investigations, Europe’s trade commissioner said on  Monday.

A trade dispute dating back to 2004 over subsidies for Europe’s Airbus and US planemaker Boeing is drawing to a conclusion at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

It has already awarded Washington the right to impose duties on $7.5 billion of European goods related to subsidies given to Airbus but is only expected to rule in September what retaliation Europe can take over support for Boeing. European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan told the European Parliament’s trade committee that Washington had twice rejected EU proposals to settle the dispute and he hoped the WTO would issue its findings as soon as possible in September.

EU officials said they did not expect the United States to want to settle the dispute before then.

“I want to reassure people that we are ready to act decisively and strongly on the EU side if we don’t get the type of outcome that we expect from the US in relationship to finalizing this 15-year-old dispute,” he said.

Since US President Donald Trump took office, he has repeatedly criticized the EU over its trade surplus in goods and imposed tariffs on metal imports from the EU and threatened to do the same for cars made in the bloc.

Hogan said Washington’s recent launch of several “Section 232” investigations, which assess the impact of imports on US national security, was unacceptable.

The investigations cover mobile cranes and transformers and have been expanded to include steel products, such as nails. The US is also looking into whether planned EU digital services taxes impede US commerce.

“It’s not appreciated the number of 232 investigations that have been launched in recent weeks, perhaps this is political, perhaps it’s more real,” Hogan said.

“This is totally unacceptable ... and if these investigations go further the EU will have to stand together and act as well,” he said.