Sat, Oct 05, 2019 - Page 10 News List

EU vows to hit back over new US tariffs

CONCERN OVER CONSUMERS:A European official said that talks would hopefully resolve the issue, adding that the move would affect US consumers and firms first

AP, PARIS

The EU on Thursday warned that it would retaliate against the US’ decision to impose tariffs on a range of the bloc’s exports — from cheese to wine — that could cause job losses in Europe and price increases for Americans.

The tariffs target large aircraft, but also many typical European products such as olives, whiskey, wine, cheese and yogurt. They are to take effect on Oct. 18 and amount to a 10 percent tax on EU aircraft and 25 percent on everything else.

The US received the legal go-ahead on Wednesday from the WTO in a case involving illegal EU subsidies for Airbus.

However, the EU is expecting a similar case involving US subsidies for Boeing to go in its favor, with a ruling due in the next few months.

The EU has said that it hopes the two sides can hold off new tariffs, which economically amount to taxes on domestic importers. Sometimes importers pass on the higher costs to consumers, making goods more expensive.

“If the US imposes countermeasures, it will be pushing the EU into a situation where we will have to do the same,” European Commission spokesman Daniel Rosario said.

“This is a move that will first and foremost hit US consumers and companies, and will make efforts towards a negotiated settlement more complicated,” Rosario said.

Mindful that the tariffs do not actually come into effect for a couple weeks, Rosario added that the EU is still open to talking.

The tariffs come on top of existing ones that the US and EU exchanged last year and multiply the headaches for European businesses fretting over Brexit, which could see Britain leave the EU on Oct. 31 without a deal — meaning new tariffs overnight on the heavy flow of trade across the English Channel.

Spanish Federation of Food and Beverage Industries head Mauricio Garcia de Quevedo said that the new US tariffs would make it harder for the companies he represents to compete internationally.

That will contribute to job losses, he said, without providing details.

The US is the Spanish sector’s second-biggest food and beverage client after the EU, according to the federation.

The sector exported 1.7 billion euros (US$1.9 billion) last year.

Miguel Blanco, secretary-general of Spain’s farming sector umbrella group, COAG, representing more than 15,000 Spanish farmers and livestock breeders, said the tariffs are “completely unfair and overblown.”

“Once again, the farming sector is going to pay for an EU trade war which has nothing to do with the Spanish countryside,” Europa Press quoted Blanco as saying.

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