European plane maker Airbus said on Wednesday it regrets Washington’s decision to keep in place 15 percent tariffs on Airbus aircraft despite European Union actions to comply with World Trade Organization (WTO) rulings.
“Airbus profoundly regrets that, despite Europe’s recent actions to achieve full compliance, USTR has decided to maintain tariffs on Airbus aircraft — especially at a time when aviation and other sectors are going through an unprecedented crisis,” said Airbus spokesman Clay McConnell. He added that “Airbus trusts that Europe will respond appropriately to defend its interests and the interests of all the European companies and sectors, including Airbus, targeted by these tariffs.”
The statement follows the US government’s decision to maintain tariffs on Airbus and other European goods, despite moves by the EU to resolve a 16-year dispute over aircraft subsidies. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday that the EU had not taken actions necessary to come into compliance with WTO decisions, and that Washington would initiate a new process to try to reach a long-term solution.
Lighthizer’s office said it would modify its list of $7.5 billion of affected European products to remove certain goods from Greece and Britain, and add an equivalent amount of goods from Germany and France.
The EU cautiously welcomed the US decision to not increase the amount of goods subject to tariffs, with its spokesperson saying: “The Commission acknowledges the decision of the US not to exacerbate the ongoing aircraft dispute by increasing tariffs on European products.”
The transatlantic legal battle began in 2004, when the US government accused Britain, France, Germany and Spain of providing illegal subsidies and grants to support Airbus. At the same time, the EU filed a similar complaint about US subsidies for Boeing.
After winning a $7.5 billion award in the Airbus case, the US imposed a 10 percent tariff on most European-made Airbus jets and duties of 25 percent on a list of EU products, ranging from cheese and olives to whiskey.
In June, the Trump administration escalated the trade row, threatening to levy new tariffs on $3.1 billion worth of exports from France, Germany, Spain, and the UK, prompting a strong reaction from Brussels.
Airbus said last month it would increase loan repayments to France and Spain in a “final” bid to reverse US tariffs and jog Washington into settling the long-running dispute.
The plane maker’s shares plunged on Thursday, following the tariff news, down over two percent, making the stock the worst performer on France’s benchmark CAC-40 index.
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