The US administration has drawn up an $11billion list of imports after the World Trade Organisation found EU backing of Airbus “repeatedly caused adverse effects” to American aeroplane manufacturer Boeing. The list includes hundreds of products including helicopters, cheese, wine, butter, motorcycles, knives, clocks, cosmetics, binoculars, olive oil and fish. The President has repeatedly fought Boeing’s corner, even when two 737 Max crashed in Indonesia and then Ethiopia, killing 157 people on board.
Last night US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said: “This case has been in litigation for 14 years, and the time has come for action.
“The Administration is preparing to respond immediately when the WTO issues its finding on the value of U.S. countermeasures.
“Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft.”
He added: “When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional US duties imposed in response can be lifted.”
Mr Lighthizer’s office said it would “identify products of the EU to which additional duties may be applied until the EU removes those subsidies” under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.
The World Trade Organisation ruled in May last year Airbus had received illegal funding for its A380 and A350 which cost Boeing sales and the US administration said it would wait until the WTO gives the go-ahead this summer before imposing the tariffs.
Boeing released a statement backing the Trump administration’s hardline stance.
A Boeing spokesman said the company: “Supports the U.S. trade representative and his team in their ongoing efforts to level the playing field in the global aircraft marketplace.”
The US first complained about Airbus getting illegal subsidies 15 years ago which sparked a countersuit by the European Union claiming $325 million in tax incentives offered by Washington state to Boeing were unlawful.
European aviation companies Airbus, Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc and Meggitt Plc all dropped in value after the US announcement.
The list of products the US will add tariffs on does not take into account Brexit as British products including Stilton cheese, woollen jumpers and kitchen knives.
However, the trade dispute between the EU and the US is dwarfed by the $360 billion trade war Trump has instigated with China.