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  • AFP

US says considering new taxes on US$3.1b in European products

The United States is considering levying taxes on an additional US$3.1 billion in European imports amid a dispute over subsidies to planemaker Airbus.

A document released yesterday from the US Trade Representative (USTR) listed products from France, Germany, Spain or Britain, ranging from olives to decaffeinated coffee, as possibly subject to the new tariffs.

Washington and Brussels have been squabbling for years over government subsidies to Airbus, with US President Donald Trump’s administration imposing US$7.5 billion in punitive tariffs with the authorisation of the World Trade Organisation.

The EU has threatened its own tariffs on Boeing, but in an April letter to USTR Robert Lighthizer, EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said he saw the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to defuse the tensions.

Trump, who faces a tough re-election battle in November, took office promising to close the yawning US trade deficit with the rest of the world.

The skirmishes with Europe began when Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the EU.

Brussels shot back by taxing iconic US products, including denim jeans and motorcycles.

Trump has also threatened duties on European cars, which is of particular concern to Germany.

He has so far backed down under the pressure from US lawmakers, but raised the idea again earlier this month as possible retaliation for EU duties on imported lobster.

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