Washington slaps fresh tariffs on the EU

Photo: EPA US President Donald Trump (R) during a joint press conference with the President of Finland Sauli Niinisto in the White House, Washington, 2 October .

The US will hit the European Union with fresh tariff on $7.5bn worth of goods, starting 18 October, news wires reported. The move follows a ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) which allowed Washington to impose duties on the bloc in retaliation for its subsidies to aircraft maker Airbus. The annual sum is the largest so-called countermeasure that the Geneva-based trade body has ever granted in a trade dispute.

The global organization had ruled in May 2018 in favour of Washington's claims that EU subsidies for Airbus were illegal, as part of the epic subsidy spat between the European company and US aircraft maker Boeing. A duty of 10% will be imposed on aircraft from the bloc, the US Trade Representative Office (USTR) said. The USTR said "the bulk of the tariffs" would be applied to imports from France, Germany, Spain, and Britain, including 25-per-cent tariffs on wine, whiskey and olives from those nations. Cheese products from a number of European countries will also be hit.

The EU may win the right to impose its own tariffs next year, when the WTO is set to rule on illegal US aid for Boeing, as part of the complex case between the world's two largest aircraft makers ongoing for years.

US President Donald Trump said the ruling was a "big win for the United States" and went on to take credit for the decision, even as the case began 15 years ago, long before he took office.

"They think I don't like the WTO and they want to make sure I am happy," he boasted in a press conference at the White House next to Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. The WTO "has been much better to us since I've been president."

Niinisto declined to comment directly on the threat of tariffs on European imports, but declared his respect for multinational institutions while calling the WTO decision "quite tough with Europe."

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