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EU considers retaliation against proposed US tariffs

Europe is preparing countermeasures against the additional trade tariffs on EU goods that the US government has proposed amid a transatlantic dispute over alleged subsidies to aircraft manufacturers.

The European Commission says it will request clarity about its retaliation rights from the arbitrator in the dispute at the World Trade Organization, in order to "promptly take action" against the proposed US import duties.

Yesterday, the Office of the US Trade Representative issued a preliminary the list of products that are to become subject to the new tariffs.

It covers civilian aerospace products from France, Germany, Spain and the UK – aircraft over 15t, helicopters, airframe sections and undercarriages – and a range of other products from the EU's 28 member states, including food, wine and clothing.

The US Trade Representative estimates that the harm from EU subsidies equates to $11 billion a year. But the EU Commission counters that this figure is based on "US internal estimates" rather than WTO analysis.

Airbus, meanwhile, describes the US government's move as "totally unjustified" and asserts that the EU Commission will be in a position to propose "far larger countermeasures".

However, the European airframer acknowledges that such a move would lead to "unnecessary trade tensions", and that "the only reasonable solution is a negotiated settlement".

Echoing previous comments by Airbus, the Commission says that it is open for discussions with the US government "provided these are without preconditions and aim at a fair outcome".

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