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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

US threatens new tariffs on range of European imports

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The US may slap new tariffs on $3.1 billion of exports from France, Germany, Spain and the UK, escalating a trade battle with Europe as the UK’s top trade official ripped the Trump administration for “talking a good game” on free trade while restricting import access.

The new tariffs would affect the price of everything from imported aircraft to French cheese, British gin and German beer, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also wants to add new tariffs on olives and trucks, while increasing existing duties on products including aircrafts and yogurt, according to a notice published Tuesday night.

The notice says there will be a month-long public comment period ending July 26.

European stocks fell by the most in a week and the Dow was down about 630 points at 11:15 a.m. over concerns about the spreading coronavirus pandemic in the US and worries about trade between the US and Europe, according to the news service.

If the US moves forward with the plan, it could slam European luxury brands like leather goods designers Givenchy and Hermes and Remy Cointreau and Pernod Ricard, which make cognac and champagne.

The new duties could be as high as 100 percent, which would double the price of many products for US importers and may mean that they disappear from US retailers altogether.

The import taxes would add to the 25 percent tariff the US imposed last year on imports of Scotch and Irish Whisky and liqueurs and cordials from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and UK.

The US Distilled Spirits Council told Bloomberg it opposed any additional spirits tariffs, which would “escalate trade tensions across the Atlantic and further jeopardize American companies and hospitality jobs already under duress as a result of COVID-19,” according to a statement.

Lighthizer said his goal in increasing tariffs is to persuade the EU to agree to a settlement.

But talks between the US and the EU have floundered this year, and now the EU is preparing to retaliate with new tariffs against an array of politically sensitive US industries.

“The US has stepped back from the settlement talks in recent weeks,” EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan told European trade ministers on June 9.

“If this remains the case, the EU will have little choice but to exercise its retaliation rights and impose our own sanctions.”

Meanwhile, Britain has no deadline to strike a trade deal with the United States, trade minister Liz Truss said on Wednesday.

“We’re not going to rush into a deal and there is no deadline. We will be tough in pressing our interests,” Truss told a parliamentary committee, Reuters reported.

“The US talk a good game about free trade and low tariffs. But the reality is that many UK products have been kept unfairly out of their markets,” she added.

Britain left the EU earlier this year and is now in the process of negotiating bilateral trade deals with major partners like the US — something the government has cited as a major benefit of leaving the EU.

Earlier, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, an ally of President Trump, said talks were continuing at a good pace and that the current round was due to end this week.

Nevertheless, Truss struck a combative tone, citing US tariffs on British steel, bans on lamb exports, the threat of further tariffs on cars and US-centered procurement policies which restrict access to government contracts.

“Let me be clear. I am not going to strike a trade deal with the US, unless all these points are dealt with,” she said.

The news came a day after it was reported that the EU could ban visitors from the US over the pandemic.

With Post wires

Read More at NYPost

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