Wind of change in EU-US trade relations as aircraft dispute tariffs suspended

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Darwel
© GettyImages/Darwel

Related tags: WTO, tariffs

The US and EU have agreed on a five-year suspension of all retaliatory tariffs stemming from World Trade Organization (WTO) disputes over government subsidies to aircraft manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing.

The goal is that, over the next five years, the parties reach a negotiated and permanent solution while easing the burden on the sectors on both sides of the Atlantic that are being hit by such retaliatory tariffs.

EU farm lobby, Copa and Cogeca, said today's positive developments are of particular importance to the EU and US farming sectors, especially when countries’ economies are starting to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

European farmers and agri-cooperatives encourage the parties to find a permanent solution while avoiding causing agriculture industries to pay a high-price for a conflict they are not involved in, said the trade representatives.

Pekka Pesonen, secretary-general of Copa and Cogeca, said: “Today we feel the wind of change in EU-US trade relations and this is good news for the farming community. Still, the Airbus-Boeing debacle is not the only trade friction between both partners. There is a risk for a similar development in the framework of the digital tax. We hope that what happened today will be a stepping-stone towards strengthening transatlantic cooperation and the international rules-based trading framework.”

Row escalated under Trump 

The trade dispute skyrocketed under the Trump administration.

Following WTO decisions, both the US, in October 2019, and the EU, in November 2020, imposed punitive tariffs on each other's exports, affecting in total a value of US$11.5bn of trade between the two sides. As a result, EU and US businesses have had to pay over US$3.3bn in duties.

The Irish livestock sector, heavily reliant on US molasses, reported challenges late last year as a result of such levies placed on imports of molasses from Florida, as part of the ongoing row. Though, there was some temporary relief for end users of such raw materials in March this year, with EU and US counterparts moving to suspend the tariffs for four months at that juncture.

EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, commenting on the much longer suspension period agreed today along, and the apparent willingness of both sides to find solutions, said: “With the agreement on Boeing-Airbus, we have taken a major step in resolving the longest trade dispute in the history of the WTO. I am happy to see that after intensive work between the European Commission and the US administration, our transatlantic partnership is on its way to reaching cruising speed. This shows the new spirit of cooperation between the EU and the US and that we can solve the other issues to our mutual benefit.”

Related topics: Regulation, North America, Europe

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