Economy & Business

EU Threatens to Retaliate against New U.S. Tariffs

Outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium (Yves Herman/Reuters)

The European Union on Wednesday threatened to retaliate in kind against an upcoming batch of new American tariffs covering $7.5 billion in EU exports.

The Trump administration received World Trade Organization approval for the proposed tariffs — which cover European aircraft manufacturer Airbus as well as EU agricultural exports including wine, cheese, olives, and Irish and Scotch whiskies — on Wednesday.

“If the U.S. imposes countermeasures it will be pushing the EU into a situation where we will have to do the same,” said European Commission spokesman Daniel Rosario, who added that the EU was still open to negotiating an alternative with the Trump administration before the administration’s new tariffs take effect several weeks from now.

On Wednesday, administration officials announced their intention to implement tariffs on Airbus after the WTO ruled that the company had received illegal subsidies from EU governments.

“For years, Europe has been providing massive subsidies to Airbus that have seriously injured the U.S. aerospace industry and our workers,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a statement. “Finally, after 15 years of litigation, the WTO has confirmed that the United States is entitled to impose countermeasures in response to the EU’s illegal subsidies.”

The upcoming U.S. tariffs on EU goods have sparked concern on the continent that the measures could spell more economic headaches as the EU simultaneously navigates through Brexit.

The Trump administration has already imposed extensive tariffs on imports from China, to which China has responded with a ban on imports of U.S. agricultural goods. The federal government has so far distributed roughly $28 billion in aid to farmers affected by the ban.

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