The new tariffs, announced by the US Trade Representative’s office on Wednesday, will snap into place later this month in response to European Union nations’ subsidies for European aircraft giant Airbus, with European producers and US importers bracing for losses.
Single-malt Scotch whisky, French wine, Italian cheeses, German coffee, Spanish olives and other delicacies are on the list of hundreds of European-made products to be slapped with a 25 percent import tax as they make their way into the US as soon as October 18, with the US Trade Representative’s office publishing a list of the goods affected.
Washington justified some $7.5 billion in new tariffs against EU goods following Wednesday’s ruling by the World Trade Organisation, which found that the EU had provided billions of dollars’ worth of illegal subsidies to Airbus, hurting US rival Boeing.
Along with the wines and cheeses, the new tariffs include a 10 percent tax on European aircraft, and a 25 percent import duty on agricultural and other goods, ranging from German camera parts and British blankets, sweaters, and wool clothing to a variety of other European made foods and consumer goods.
US Told to Brace for Countermeasures
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned Thursday that the European Union should create a coordinated response to the US move, and that the US should brace itself to be “sanctioned.”
“If the American administration rejects the hand that has been held out by France and the European Union, we are preparing ourselves to react with sanctions,” Le Maire said.
EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom similarly warned that “if the US decides to impose WTO authorized countermeasures, it will be pushing the EU into a situation where we will have no other option than to do the same.”
The Scotch Whisky Association, an Edinburgh-headquartered producers’ collective, cautioned Thursday that the tariffs would damage the industry and hurt jobs and investment. SWA chief executive Karen Betts noted in a statement that the US was producers’ “largest and most valuable single market,” with “over 1 billion pounds of Scotch Whisky…exported there last year. The tariff will put our competitiveness and Scotch Whisky’s market share at risk,” she explained.
US importers also expect to be hit, with Ralph Hoffman, vice president of the Cheese Importers Association of America, telling media “It looks pretty bad. They hit cheese hard.”
Online, users took the news with a mix of anger and sarcasm, with many immediately blaming President Trump, or joking that the attack on Italian cheese and French wine was “a crime against humanity.”
Italian cheese and French wine? This is a crime against humanity.
— Constantin Gurdgiev (@GTCost) 3 октября 2019 г.
Others warned that it was only a matter of time before the EU started retaliating
Not sure what Scotch whisky, Italian cheese, French wine have to do with Airbus airplanes but I can assure you people will start asking when the EU reciprocates on Kentucky bourbon, Harleys, US wines. Cheese Whiz, not so much. https://t.co/csE7WSGo0I
— toomas hendrik ilves (@IlvesToomas) 2 октября 2019 г.
Why don’t we hit McDonalds, Starbucks, Sub, KFC, Domino’s Pizza with 25% tariffs? Might make the U.K. healthier and they wouldn’t like it at all.
— mags (@MagsWilson44) 3 октября 2019 г.
Some users weren’t so concerned, however, suggesting the US could easily replace the goods, and that good wines, cheeses, wines and bourbon are already made in the US, or joking that the tariffs on fattening foods and alcohol may have been a good idea as a kind of “gout tax.” A few also argued that the kinds of people who can afford to buy premium European goods probably weren’t going to notice a 25 percent price jump.
Kentucky bourbons & Tennessee whiskeys, Wisconsin cheeses and California wines are all REALLY good.
— Yank In Krakow (@YankinKrakow) 3 октября 2019 г.
Something tells me the people buying French wine, single-malt scotch and euro cheeses aren’t going to notice a 25% price increase.
— John Gibson (@johnegibson) 2 октября 2019 г.
Others asked why the tariffs had targeted the UK, given the recent efforts between President Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson to set up a special trade partnership.
But, but, I thought he wanted a free trade deal…like the best free trade deal in the world ever?
— Samantha Ward (@s4mmyw) 3 октября 2019 г.
It’s that special relationship! Doesn’t it make you feel all warm inside ? Next stop Jackanory Johnson hands over the NHS bet your house on it !
— Robert Young Esq.,#TheResistance#FBPE#FBR (@robyoung20) 3 октября 2019 г.
I wonder if this is so that Boris can ride to the rescue and claim that only he can protect Scotland
— Steven Roy (@stevenroy27) 3 октября 2019 г.
The trade conflict between the US and its European allies began last year, with Washington slapping duties on steel and aluminium imports from the bloc, and the EU responding by hitting over $3 billion in US goods, including everything from Kentucky bourbon and corn to Harley-Davidson motorcycles, with a steep 25 percent tariff. Trump’s trade tiff with Europe is part of his larger trade conflict with many countries around the world, including China, and an attempt, in his words, to redress long-standing trade imbalances.