Amid an increasingly bitter dispute with US aerospace giant, Boeing, the European Commission laid the groundwork on Wednesday for imposing retaliatory tariffs on €18 billion worth of American imports, a move that comes after the WTO said that the US had failed to remove some Boeing subsidies.
The US and EU have been battling for almost 15 years over subsidies given to Boeing and its European rival, Airbus. Brussels opted to take the extraordinary step to punish a close ally after President Donald J. Trump threatened to impose tariffs on products ranging from large aircraft to dairy products and wine, to counteract the harm from massive EU subsidies for Airbus
“European companies must be able to compete on fair and equal terms,” said the European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström. “We must continue to defend a level-playing field for our industry,” she added. “While we need to be ready with countermeasures in case there is no other way out, I still believe that dialogue is what should prevail between important partners such as the EU and the US.”
Malmström added that she wants the EU to end the dispute amicably and open discussions on limited trade negotiations.
The EU-US trade row has been largely overshadowed by Trump’s bigger conflict with China, which has rocked the world economy. The Commission is set to start two sets of negotiations – one to cut tariffs on industrial goods, the other to help companies demonstrate that their products meet EU and US quality standards.
Brussels has insisted that agriculture not be included in the talks, a position that has angered the White House, which wants farm products to be part of the core agreement.