Europeans prepare for wave of US tariff increases

New tariffs on a range of goods from the European Union came into effect on Friday morning.

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Aircraft, French wines, Italian cheeses, Scottish whiskeys: Europeans face a new wave of US tariff increases on Friday, October 18, across a range of commodities, with the prospect of increasing transatlantic trade tensions.

This new offensive by US President Donald Trump comes as Washington bogs down in a major trade war with China, which risks destabilizing the global economy. On Wednesday, the impetuous leader once again took the Europeans, who behave according to him unfairly by erecting "Huge barriers" against US imports into the European Union (EU). However, he did not close the door to an agreement between the two parties that would put an end to the conflict.

According to the US Federal Register, tariff increases came into effect at 4:01 am GMT on Friday, ie 6:01 am in France, four days after the final green light of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Washington DC. impose sanctions against the EU, in retaliation for the subsidies granted to the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

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"The EU is ready to fight back"

In the Americans' line of sight: the aircraft of the manufacturer, manufactured mainly in factories in the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Germany, which will now cost 10% more when they are imported into the United States . But European wines are also in the sights of Trump, with a 25% tax on these drinks.

From Washington, where he participates in the IMF's annual meetings, the French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, issued a warning to the Trump administration just before the entry into force of these tariffs. "These decisions would have negative consequences both economically and politically.he warned. The EU is ready to respond. " A meeting between The Mayor and Robert Lighthizer, the US Trade Representative and chief negotiator for the United States, is scheduled for Friday in Washington.

For a long time, Europeans have been arguing for a negotiation rather than a trade war. Especially since they will most likely be authorized by the WTO next year to impose customs sanctions against the United States to punish them … for having subsidized Boeing.

They fear above all that Donald Trump continues its momentum and impose mid-November higher customs duties on European cars. This would particularly affect the German car industry, already struggling, even if Volkswagen or BMW also manufacture their vehicles in the United States. Trump is complaining about US difficulties selling American products, especially cars, in Europe, while Europeans can easily sell theirs in the United States.

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Politically protectionist

The conflict between the two aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing is just one of the many problems that fueled transatlantic tensions and quickly escalated with Donald Trump taking office in 2017. Adopting a resolutely protectionist policy, the US leader has already imposed higher tariffs on steel and aluminum from the EU and other allied countries, while leaving the threat of doing the same with cars. In July 2018, Mr Trump and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, agreed to a sort of truce in Washington, promising to conduct negotiations that have so far led to nothing.

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The legal battle between Airbus and Boeing before the WTO dates back to 2004, when Washington accused the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain of granting illegal subsidies to support the production of Airbus aircraft. A year later, it was the EU's turn to accuse Boeing of obtaining $ 19.1 billion in illegal subsidies between 1989 and 2006 from the US government. Followed an endless legal battle, each party making a series of calls and counter-calls.


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