Washington raises taxes on Airbus planes from 10 to 15%

An Airbus A350 1000 over Le Bourget airport, June 18, 2019.
An Airbus A350 1000 over Bourget airport, June 18, 2019. ERIC PIERMONT / AFP

The United States announced on Friday (February 14th) that it will raise customs taxes on Airbus aircraft imported from Europe to 15% from March 18, according to a statement from the United States Trade Representative (USTR). These taxes have been 10% since last October, when the US government decided to hit $ 7.5 billion in European products from punitive tariffs.

Originally, Washington had taken this action in retaliation for subsidies received by the European aircraft manufacturer, deemed undue by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Other products – including wine, cheese, coffee and olives – have been taxed at 25% since October.

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In Europe and the United States, the different sectors concerned hold their breath with each new decision, in the hope that their category will be removed from the list, and in fear that the tariffs will be increased. "The spirit drinks industry on both sides of the Atlantic has suffered enough", reacted Friday the Distilled Spirits Council, an American professional association. She calls on the authorities to withdraw 25% taxes on American whiskeys on the European side, and 25% taxes on liquors imported from five European countries, saying they penalize the US economy and threaten jobs.

“Our strategy has paid off! "

In October, Delta Air Lines, a US company customer of Airbus, deplored these sanctions, believing that tariffs would cause "Serious harm to American airlines, the millions of Americans they employ and travelers". But US President Donald Trump also uses these taxes as a negotiating tool.

After months of trade war with China, with reciprocal punitive tariffs, he exclaimed “Our strategy has paid off! ", when the two countries signed an agreement in mid-January. His attention is now focused on Europe. Donald Trump and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, indeed announced at the end of January, after a meeting in Davos (Switzerland), their desire to relaunch the transatlantic trade site and to conclude an agreement in the coming weeks.

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Maximum pressure

But for now, negotiations have been unsuccessful and relations remain strained as the White House host still brandishes the threat of taxing imports of European cars, which particularly shakes German manufacturers. Monday he said it was time to negotiate "Very seriously" a trade agreement with the European Union. He wants EU member states to open up their markets more to American products, especially agricultural products.

His administration recently threatened to overtax "Up to 100%" the equivalent of $ 2.4 billion in French products. Something to thrill winemakers, but also American importers of French wine, who, in a letter to the USTR estimated from 11,200 to 78,600 job losses in the United States if these threats were carried out.

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