Airbus urges ‘appropriate’ EU response to new US tariffs

Airbus SE urged EU government in Brussels to issue an ‘appropriate’ response to the newly announced US trade tariffs.

European multinational aerospace giant also warned that new tariffs on aircraft parts could and most likely will backfire on US workers.

The bitter EU-US trade row over aerospace subsidies to plane makers Airbus and Boeing is set to further escalate in 2021, as the US Trade Representative’s office (USTR) unveiled plans to raise duties on French and German wines as well as “aircraft-related parts.” It is not clear when the new tariffs will be introduced, while the rate of the levies has not been revealed so far. 

“USTR’s expansion of tariffs to include components for aircraft manufactured in the US – by American workers – is counterproductive in every way,” Airbus spokesman said in an emailed statement. 

Airbus SE also added that it is confident that Europe “will respond appropriately to defend its interests and the interests of all European companies and sectors, including Airbus, targeted by these unwarranted and counterproductive tariffs.” 

Similar warnings were earlier voiced by the US Wine Trade Alliance, with its president calling new tariff hikes “a body blow for American companies” that can destroy more jobs in the service sector struggling to survive amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Washington justified the latest move with what it sees as unfair calculation of duties against US goods, approved by the World Trade Organization (WTO) earlier this year. The global trade arbiter ruled that the US failed to comply with international rules when providing subsidies to Boeing, allowing the EU to target American imports worth $4 billion with tariffs in November.

The transatlantic legal battle has been ongoing for 16 years, with tit-for-tat duties on various goods already affecting $11.5 billion in trade. Last year, the WTO sided with the US over illegal subsidies to Airbus, paving way for US’ levies on $7.5 billion worth of European goods.

The European Commission said on Thursday that the recent US move “unilaterally” disrupted ongoing attempts to settle the long-running dispute. However, it still hopes to find common ground with the new US administration, it said in a statement.

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