WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday lashed out at the European Union, vowing to slap tariffs on billions in EU imports in retaliation for subsidies to aviation giant Airbus.
“The World Trade Organization finds that the European Union subsidies to Airbus has adversely impacted the United States, which will now put Tariffs on $11 Billion of EU products!” Trump tweeted. “The EU has taken advantage of the US on trade for many years. It will soon stop!”
However, the immediate consequences from Trump’s Twitter outburst were unclear. Hours earlier, on Monday evening, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had said the final amount of any tariffs had yet to be determined and would not be announced until the outcome of a WTO arbitration process — expected later this year.
Lighthizer’s office published a preliminary list — including items as diverse as aircraft, swordfish, cheeses and liquors — that he said could be subject to additional duties in the future.
The EU and the United States have been maintaining a fragile trade truce since Trump angered Europe last year by slapping duties on steel and aluminum imports and threatening new ones on cars.
For more than 14 years, Washington and Brussels have accused each other of unfairly subsidizing Boeing and Airbus, respectively, in a tit-for-tat dispute that long predates Trump.
The Boeing-Airbus spat is the longest and most complicated dispute dealt with by the WTO, which aims to create a level playing field in global trade.
The EU fired back on Tuesday, saying that the amounts claimed by the U.S. were “greatly exaggerated.”