US President Donald Trump threatens to impose tariffs on $11 billion of European Union imports

Pallets of goods, including one of instant coffee, are stored in a warehouse near Rugby, central England on January 7, 2019. (Photo by AFP...

Pallets of goods, including one of instant coffee, are stored in a warehouse near Rugby, central England on January 7, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump says Washington will impose import tariffs on 11 billion dollars worth of goods from the European Union (EU), citing the harm that EU subsidies have allegedly inflicted on the country.

Trump made the announcement in a tweet on Tuesday after the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in May last year that EU subsidies to giant plane maker Airbus had caused “adverse effects” to the US interests.

The US president also claimed that Brussels had taken advantage of Washington on trade “for many years.”

The tariffs will be levied on a wide range of European exports to the US, including large commercial aircraft and parts, as well as wine, cheese, and dairy products, according to the US Trade Representative's office.

The US’s move to slap tariffs on European goods was met with sharp criticism from EU officials, who said the figure of $11 billion was “greatly exaggerated.”

The 28-member bloc has been weighing retaliatory measures in relation to subsidies given to Boeing by the US administration, according to Reuters.

The bloc “is starting preparations so that [it] can promptly take action based on the arbitrator’s decision on retaliation rights in this case,” an EU spokesperson was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Airbus also said it saw no legal basis for Washington’s move and warned of deepening transatlantic trade tensions.

An Airbus spokesman said it had taken measures to comply with “relatively minor” outstanding requirements required by the WTO and that US talk of $11bn worth of damage from EU subsidies to Airbus was excessive.

The US and Europe are already in the middle of a tense trade dispute, with Trump having imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on the EU since last May.

There are also fears Washington could impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on European auto imports, which would have a far greater impact on the European economy.
Since taking office in 2017, Trump has been criticizing the bloc for the trade deficit in US-EU dealings.

The avid protectionist has attempted to revive American manufacturing and reduce dependence on imported goods, including steel and other materials.

However, the US government’s Census Bureau revealed last month that the country’s trade deficit hit a 10-year high in 2018 as it grew to 621 billion dollars. That’s over $100 billion since he entered the White House.
Trump views the trade deficit as a measure of whether the US is winning or losing on trade.


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