United States threatens tariffs on $11bn of European Union goods

European Commission finds the US proposal "greatly exaggerated" and is preparing its own list of products, which, likewise, include large commercial aircraft (hint: Boeing) and parts, Reuters reported on April 9, 2019, quoting a "source" inside the Commission.

The Trump administration released a 14-page list of European Union goods that could attract a higher tariff, including several symbolic targets such as "French cheese", roquefort cheese, wine, champagne, olive oil and seafood such as oysters.

After ending negotiations on the Transatlantic and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the proposed trade agreement between the USA and EU, Trump imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on the EU and a number of other countries.

The two sets of punitive measures are the latest twists in a 14-year-old dispute that the USA and European Union have fought at the World Trade Organization, with each side accusing the other of illegally subsidizing their main aircraft makers. "It will soon stop!"

President Donald Trump's administration has been embroiled many trade wars across the globe. The U.S. had in 2004 complained to the WTO, which sets global trade rules and settles disputes, that the European Union was providing unfair support to Airbus.

The proposed tariffs come almost 15 years after the USA first complained to the WTO that Airbus had widely benefited from billions of dollars in illegal subsidies.

The US government filed a similar claim that year over European subsidies to Airbus.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council in the Cabinet room at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 4, 2019.

The World Trade Organization has handed down favorable rulings to both sides, underscoring the complexity of the dispute.

Daniel Rosario, a spokesperson for the European Commission, said the European governing body remains open to discussions, so long as they're not based on pre-conditions.

The EU is already facing USA tariffs on its steel and aluminum exports and Trump has repeatedly threatened to hit EU cars with punitive duties.

"The interest of the United States as the interest of the European continent and France is to reach an amicable agreement", said French Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire.

The move would mark an escalation in trade tensions between the United States and the EU.

"Get ready for more tit-for-tat scrapping to follow", said John Woolfitt of London brokerage Atlantic Markets.

Some EU members, led by France, are already skeptical of the value of negotiations with the US, which were agreed to last July in a bid by the EU to avoid auto tariffs Trump has threatened.

The EU and the USA are already engaged in a trade battle which has seen extra tariffs placed on goods imported to both regions.

The US is now negotiating a trade deal with China, but tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by the two countries have already weighed on the global economy this year.

"The Administration is preparing to respond immediately when the WTO issues its finding on the value of US countermeasures", said US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.