EU panic: Brussels terrified that WTO delay undermines bloc in tariff battle against Trump

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The World Trade Organisation has pushed back the decision by at least five months due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Brussels is worried the delay harms the EU’s right to launch retaliatory tariffs against Washington over subsidies for aerospace giant Boeing. A European Commission spokesman said: “The EU is very concerned about this and we have communicated this to the WTO.

“We believe that the delay would not be justified, even in the context of COVID-19 and that it would be detrimental to the EU’s retaliatory rights under WTO rules.”

The United States has already won the right to slap tariffs on $7.5 billion of EU goods in a similar case over subsidies for European platemaker Airbus.

The decision was made by the WTO last October as part of a long running spat subsidies between Brussels and Washington.

The EU wants to reach an agreement with the US over plane subsidies to finally settle the dispute.

However, experts believe this won’t happen until the WTO awards Brussels with the right to impose tariffs.

The US tariffs focus on planes, olives, tools and whisky from Airbus-building countries Britain, France, Germany and Spain.

They also target cheese, wine and pork from across the EU.

Washington increases the tariff rates in February and is now investigating an additional list of $3.1 billion worth of tariffs on products.

The fresh list includes bakery goods, beer, gin and vodka from the four plane producing countries.

It was drawn up by the US Trade Representative and includes 26 other products.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has said she was disappointed by Washington’s actions, warning against the possibility of a “tit-for-tat” tariffs row.

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The row centres on EU subsidies given to Airbus before 2004.

Washington argued they created an unfair advantage over their domestic aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

Last year the WTO ruled that the subsidies were illegal and allowed the US to level tariffs on EU goods.

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And the trade body is now considering a parallel case involving illegal support for Boeing, which could allow the EU to impose tariffs later this year.

In a statement, the EU said: “It creates uncertainty for companies and inflicts unnecessary economic damage on both sides of the Atlantic.

“This is particularly the case are companies are now trying to overcome the economic difficulties in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.”

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