It is a 16-year-old commercial dispute that is not about to end. Indeed, the United States decided, Thursday, August 13, to maintain their punitive taxes against European products despite a gesture by Airbus which now claims to be in compliance with the rules of the World Trade Organization. (WTO). The EU must “Prepare to retaliate firmly” to this American decision, according to the French Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire.
This is the latest episode in the dispute between the United States and the EU over a trade dispute dating from October 2004 over public aid to European aircraft manufacturers Airbus and American Boeing. The WTO last year authorized Washington to impose taxes on nearly 7.5 billion dollars (6.3 billion euros) of European goods and services imported each year, the heaviest sanction ever imposed by the ‘WTO.
Since then, Washington has imposed punitive tariffs on certain imports from the European Union such as wine, cheese and olives, up to 25%. Customs duties of 10% on Airbus planes were raised in March to 15%.
Asked on the Fox Business channel about the maintenance of taxes despite the actions of Airbus, the US president replied Thursday: “Well, we won the right to it in a lawsuit because they cheated. “The European Union is almost as terrible as China”, added Donald Trump before accusing European countries of ” enjoy “ of the United States by not paying their due to NATO, another of their recurring criticisms.
France calls for an end to sanctions on wines and planes
Washington on Wednesday kept the amount of goods and services affected at $ 7.5 billion, with rates unchanged of 15% for aeronautics and 25% for the rest, including French, German, Spanish wines and British whiskeys. .
The list of goods concerned has however been modified, with the withdrawal from 1is September of certain products from Greece and the United Kingdom and the addition for an equivalent amount of products from France and Germany.
“Airbus has become fully compliant to prepare the way for this dispute settlement”, reacted the French Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, specifying to have “Asked the European Commissioner Phil Hogan a few days ago to speed up the settlement of this conflict so that there is no longer any sanction against French aeronautical and wine products”
The European aircraft manufacturer declared, for its part, “Regret[r] deeply “ the American decision, after reaching an agreement at the end of July with the Spanish and French governments to pay higher interest on the repayable advances granted by Paris and Madrid during the launch of the A350 long-haul aircraft program.
The European Commission has cautiously welcomed the decision, noting that “The current economic slowdown, in particular its impact on the air transport and aeronautics sectors, gives particular urgency to the resolution of this dispute”.
Towards a new negotiation process
The Federation of Wine and Spirits Exporters of France (FEVS) regretted, in a press release, the maintenance of US customs duties “Which continues to strongly penalize exporters”, when “We are all extremely weakened by the economic and health crisis”.
The Scottish Whiskey Association has also said “Deeply disappointed” that Washington does not lift the tax on this drink, adding that “Exports to the United States are down 30% since the tax is in place”, resulting in losses of 300 million pounds (332 million euros) for the sector.
But Washington said on Wednesday that the actions taken by the EU were insufficient, while showing itself open to the search for a solution. “The EU and member countries have not taken the necessary actions to comply with WTO decisions”said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, also saying he wants to “Start a new process with the EU to try to get an agreement” This dispute, which has lasted sixteen years, is the longest and most complicated trade dispute dealt with by the WTO.