MEPs highlight concern over US tariff hike impact on EU agri sector

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have expressed deep concerns over the collateral damage borne by EU agriculture and food sector due to a dispute in an unrelated sector, according to the parliament today, Thursday, November 28.

They have deplored the US decision to impose increased duties on so many agricultural products and criticised the US “lack of interest” to work with the EU on resolving the long-standing Airbus/Boeing dispute.

The EU must respond to new US tariffs in a coordinated and unified way, MEPs have stressed.

As a first step, the parliament representatives called on the EU Commission to closely monitor the market, use all existing tools, such as private storage, market withdrawals and instruments to deal with market disturbances, and mobilise rapid support for the sectors worst affected.

The EU’s executive should step up efforts to promote EU agricultural products abroad and make promotion-related funding rules more flexible to allow for EU campaigns in the US to be boosted or redirect them on alternative markets, MEPs say.

To help diversify EU export markets, all barriers that prevent exporters from fully using opportunities under EU trade agreements should be removed, MEPs insist.

They reject any cuts to the EU’s farm policy budget and call for its crisis reserve to be reformed.

Parliament also urges the European Commission to strive to find a negotiated solution to ease EU-US trade tensions.

Tariffs

A World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling on Airbus subsidies gave the United States the right to levy tariffs on EU exports as retaliation for earlier, excessive EU subsidies given to the aircraft maker Airbus. The US levied up to 25% tariffs since October 18, 2019, on a large number of agricultural products such as French wine, Italian cheese and Spanish olive oil.

The EU won a parallel case brought against American aircraft maker Boeing, and the WTO ruling on the level of tariffs with which the EU can retaliate is expected in 2020.

The EU member states most affected by the WTO authorised tariffs are the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Ireland: they bear around 95% of the tariffs hitting farm exports worth €3.5 billion, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström told MEPs on Tuesday, November 26.

The EU products most affected are those with a high added value and which are often protected under EU quality schemes, such as wines and spirits, olive oil and dairy products.

The US is the number one destination of EU agricultural exports. In 2018, these exports reached €22.3 billion.

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