US to ‘level the playing field’ in trans-Atlantic tariff dispute

written by Hannah Dowling | February 11, 2021
Boeing 747-8F during its 3hr 49min first flight. (Boeing)
Boeing 747-8F during its 3hr 49min first flight. (Boeing)

The US Trade Representative’s office has said it looks forward to working with its European counterparts to “level the playing field” in the 16-year-long dispute over aircraft subsidies in the near future.

A USTR spokesman said that the office will begin working with European allies once President Joe Biden’s nominee for the top role in the agency, ambassador Katherine Tai, is confirmed.

“We know there is great interest in resolving the Boeing-Airbus dispute on both sides of the Atlantic and USTR looks forward to working with our European allies to find an outcome that levels the playing field once ambassador Tai is confirmed,” USTR spokesman Adam Hodge said.

The news comes days after officials from the UK and European Unions reiterated their willingness to negotiate and settle the nearly two-decade-long dispute over aircraft subsidies, which has led to heavy tariffs on both sides.

European Union ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis made the comments at a trade conference, and said that the dispute over trans-Atlantic trade of metals and aircraft had gone on for far too long.

Lambrinidis also suggested that by prolonging the dispute, products from China will likely soon begin flooding the global aircraft market, which would pose a threat to both European and US industries.

Lambrinidis said that reaching an agreement to remove tariffs currently in place on aircraft built by Boeing in the US and the EU’s Airbus, as well as a range of other goods, would not only provide confidence to these beleaguered markets, but also send a strong message to workers within the aviation industry.

Meanwhile, just last week, EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis urged the Biden administration to remove US tariffs on European steel and aluminium, and said that the EU would do that same in return.

Dombrovskis also reiterated an EU offer to cancel European tariffs on a range of American goods including Boeing airplanes, should the Biden administration dissolve US duties on European products, notably Airbus aircraft.

The levies were introduced when the World Trade Organisation ruled both planemakers were provided illegal subsidies.

“It’s very important that we put those bilateral trade irritants behind us and really concentrate on the broader international trade agenda,” Dombrovskis said.

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