USTR Threatens New Section 301 Tariffs Against EU

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office has proposed new tariffs on $11.2 billion in imports of European Union goods in response to the World Trade Organization’s decision that the EU improperly subsidized Boeing Co.’s main competitor, Airbus SE’s aircraft production.

The proposed list of EU goods which would be affected by these tariffs is divided into two sections. The first section, which can be accessed here, only applies to products from France, Germany, Spain or the United Kingdom and covers civil aviation products including aircraft and parts.

The second section, which can be accessed here, applies to products from all members of the EU and includes a wide range of products spanning from cheese and wine to lenses and handbags. The preliminary list includes about $23.8 billion in U.S. imports from the EU. These duties will be in addition to the Section 232 steel and aluminum duties the U.S. currently imposes and the threatened U.S. duties on automobiles and auto parts.

The dispute between the U.S. and the EU is related to litigation at the Word Trade Organization. These tariffs would only be implemented after the WTO gave its final approval, and the amount of duties the U.S. will seek is subject to arbitration in the WTO, with a decision expected this summer. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, the administration is initiating preparations now in order to be prepared to act immediately when the WTO issues its findings.

The inter-agency Section 301 Committee is seeking public comments and will hold a public hearing in connection with the proposed determinations. The USTR is requesting comments on specific products in the proposed list and whether they should remain on the list, be removed or whether additional products should be added to the list. They are also seeking comments on the amount of the increased duty rate, whether these additional duties would have an adverse effect on U.S. stakeholders, and the appropriate collective level of trade to be covered by these duties.

Requests to appear at the public hearing and a summary of testimony will be due by May 6, 2019. A public hearing will convene in Washington D.C. on May 15, 2019. Written comments, including post-hearing rebuttal comments, will be due by May 28, 2019.