THE United States is poised to introduce new tariffs on a range of goods from the EU including Irish butter, cheese, liqueurs and pork products, in the latest chapter in the long-running dispute over aircraft subsidies (Boeing/Airbus dispute).
Washington got clearance from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on October 2nd to impose annual retaliatory tariffs up to a value of almost .5bn on a range of European imports including wine, whiskey, olives, dairy products, cashmere sweaters, luxury goods and aircraft parts after it decided that the EU failed to end subsidies for Airbus.
The move to introduce a new tariff of 25% on agricultural products was formally endorsed by the Dispute Settlement Body in Geneva on October 14th.
The punitive duties will take effect from October 18th and are likely to hit well-known brands such as Baileys and Kerrygold.
Commenting on the move, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said: ‘For years, Europe has been providing massive subsidies to Airbus that have seriously injured the EU aerospace industry and our workers.’ “
‘Finally, after 15 years of litigation, the WTO has confirmed that the US is entitled to impose countermeasures in response to the EU’s illegal subsidies,’ he added.
Speaking at the Farm Council in Luxembourg on October 14th, Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan said the Commission remains ‘convinced that both US and EU trade interests are best served by a negotiated solution to the long-standing Boeing/Airbus dispute which is at the origin of these tariffs.’
Both sides should be focused on ‘de-escalating tensions rather than adding further uncertainty to an already delicate world trade and economic situation.’
‘Imposing tariffs (at 25% on agricultural products) is not a positive move, as it is ‘only a matter of time before we have the opportunity to impose tariffs on imports from the US in retaliation for the damage arising from their subsidies to Boeing,’ he added.
During the last Council meeting in charge of the Agri portfolio, the Irishman pointed out that ‘the four EU Member States where Airbus manufacturing is concentrated, UK, France, Germany and Spain, together with Italy & Ireland account for almost 97% of the total food exports of €4.3bn exposed to the tariffs.’
Some commentators suggest the inclusion of some of Ireland’s iconic brands such as Kerrygold butter & Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur is a ‘shot across the bows’ by US President Donald Trump to the incoming Trade boss.
An Bord Bia say tariffs on Baileys cream liqueur could cost Irish firms around €33m, while exports of the popular Irish drink to the US were worth €135m in 2018.
• Rose O’Donovan is editor-in-chief of Brussels-based agricultural publication Agra Facts.