What a welcome for Biden! EU takes aim at US with ferocious £3bn tariff assault

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The ongoing trade war between the US and the EU looks set to continue under the Biden administration despite European leaders expressing hope for better relations with the Democrat.

Yesterday, the EU announced a 15 percent tariff of Boeing aeroplanes and a 25 percent tariff on products such as tractors, frozen shellfish, gin, suitcases, video game consoles, cotton and salmon.

While some EU leaders have urged officials to wait until Mr Biden is officially in office, these new tariffs are believed to take effect from today.

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said he hopes the Biden administration “will contribute to world trade relations being more rules-based, being more multilateral, being less protectionist in the future”.

However, he confirmed the decision to move forward with the tariffs was due to the Biden trade team being unlikely to be in place until February or March.

He added: “We are ready to withdraw or suspend our tariffs at any time when the US is ready to do son on their side, whether it is the current of future US administration.”

EU trade ministers, who approved the tariffs, added they are “not escalating anything” but exercising their rights.

Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU’s top trade official, said: “We are not escalating anything.

“We are exercising our rights as awarded by the WTO.

“We are just here mirroring the US approach.

“Removing these tariffs would be a win-win for both sides.”

These new tariffs come after a 16-year dispute over whether Europe’s Airbus and America’s Boeing airlines have been receiving illegal state aid.

During the George W. Bush administration, they complained to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that Airbus was receiving illegal subsidies from EU governments.

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But it was under Donald Trump when the fight got nastier after the Republican dubbed the EU as a “foe” and complained about “what they do to us in trade”.

According to the Washington Post, last year the US levied $7.5bn (£5.6bn) in tariffs on European goods including French wine, Italian cheese and British cashmere.

This came after the WTO ruled the European airline giant had received illegal subsidies.

Just last month, the WTO agreed Boeing had also benefited unfairly from state support, green lighting tariffs on US goods.

At the time, Mr Trump lashed out at the EU claiming Washington will “strike much harder” if they impose any tariffs.

The outgoing President said: “If they strike back, then we’ll strike much harder than they’ll strike.

“They don’t want to do anything, I can tell you that.”

The new tariffs have sparked concern among US manufacturers including the American whiskey industry.

Exports to the EU were already down 41 percent since 2018 after the bloc imposed 25 percent tariffs.

Chris Swonger, president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States warned: “Additional tariffs will be a major blow to the US spirits industry, especially craft distillers who are struggling to regain their footing following the closings of distillery tasting rooms, restaurants and bars due to COVID-19.”

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