The Administration of President Donald Trump is preparing to apply from next midnight tariffs worth 7.5 billion dollars to goods from European Union (EU) countries that will affect mainly Spain, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), these levies will enter into force at 00.01 local time (ET) on 18 October.
The punishment for EU exports comes after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled in early October in favour of the Trump government for the illegal subsidies received by the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, authorising Washington to apply sanctions worth 7.5 billion dollars (around 6.9 billion euros) per year.
The EU, in turn, is waiting for the WTO to rule in a parallel case on US aid to Boeing and has warned Washington that it will be forced to take similar countermeasures.
The four countries most affected by these tariffs will be Spain, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, but the gavammes will be less damaging to the rest of the European single market economies, which has begun a period of greater tension between Washington and Brussels.
According to the WTO ruling, the four most affected countries offered Airbus financing at a lower interest rate than the market rate, allowing the company to develop some of its most recent and advanced models.
The list of products subject to additional import duties of 25% ‘ad valorem’ focuses on products from Spain (fresh cheese, olives and olive oil, among others), but also from France (wine, cheeses), Germany (coffee, biscuits, waffles), United Kingdom (whisky, sweets) or Italy (cheeses), to which must be added others from more than twenty EU countries.
Among the items affecting the Spanish sector, there are several tariff codes relating to olive oil, both virgin and of other varieties, and to pitted or stuffed green olives.
Butter and, above all, cheeses occupy a large part of the list of codes, among which are those made with sheep’s milk and other types such as cheddar, provolone, reggiano, parmesan, gruyere or emmental.
Pork meat, other than ham, shoulders and cuts thereof, boned and cooked and packed in hermetic containers, is also subject to the tariff increase proposed by the United States.
The drinks chapter focuses on a higher tax burden for wines under 14 degrees bottled, as well as Irish malt whisky and Scotch whisky.
On seafood it mentions shipments of mussels, clams, razors and other types of molluscs, both prepared and preserved.
In total, the Spanish government has estimated the economic impact of the increase in tariffs at 841 million dollars, although it has pointed out that the quantities are not easy to specify and can vary with the passing of days, as it is “complicated” because the tariff codes applied by the US “are not the same” as those applied by Spain and the rest of the EU.
Trump himself warned on Wednesday that the United States “cannot lose” in a hypothetical trade war with the EU, as, according to him, has been demonstrated in his struggle with China.
“(With China) it has been demonstrated that we cannot lose a war with tariffs. (…) In the case of the European Union we are gaining 7.5 billion. And Italy has a percentage to pay,” Trump said in a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart, Sergio Mattarella, at the White House.