EU-US TRADE WAR: Brussels to slap tariffs on ketchup & school bags as Trump row EXPLODES

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The European Commission announced a draft list of US products exported to the EU that are set to be hit with £16.5 billion worth of trade duties in response to the ongoing Boeing-Airbus dispute. Brussels’ list includes everyday items like tomato ketchup, briefcases, video games consoles, frozen fish and seafood, cheese and fruit and vegetables, including sweet potato. The colossal list also includes aeroplanes, beeswax, tables for casino games, tractors and car parts.

The countermeasures are in response to a dispute over Boeing at the World Trade Organisation, that claims US subsidies to the aircraft manufacturer cause harm to its rival Airbus, including lost sales.

Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Commissioner responsible for trade, said: “European companies must be able to compete on fair and equal terms. The recent WTO ruling on US subsidies for Boeing is important in this respect. We must continue to defend a level-playing field for our industry.

“But let me be clear, we do not want a tit-for-tat. While we need to be ready with countermeasures in case there is no other way out, I still believe that dialogue is what should prevail between important partners such as the EU and the US, including in bringing an end to this long-standing dispute. The EU remains open for discussions with the US, provided these are without preconditions and aim at a fair outcome.”

An EU official insisted the tariffs would not have implications for European consumers.

The source said: “Our list is comprised of products where there is a possible substitution, where US supply is limited.

“European consumers shouldn’t be radically affected by our countermeasures.”

They added: “Composing a list is a complex exercise and reaching such a big amount is difficult, we can’t have a list of this magnitude without a very high number of products.

“We’re not in favour of a trade war, we are not looking for a trade war, they’re bad.

“We are confident if there is good faith on both sides a solution can be found and we won’t be forced into the extremity of having tariffs applied on both sides.”

Both the EU and US are waiting for WTO officials to make an assessment on potential loss of sales for both Boeing and Airbus in the dispute before slapping on the sanctions.

The plan was unveiled in Brussels days after US President Donald Trump’s administration threatened to hit EU products with extra tariffs as a consequence of the WTO ruling against aid granted to Airbus.

The US lists includes £8.5m of EU products, such as wine and cheese.

Mr Trump tweeted this week: “The EU has taken advantage of the US on trade for many years. It will soon stop.”

EU diplomats fear that Mr Trump will deliberately crackdown on the EU as he seeks to resolve his ongoing trade row with China.

On Monday, the European Commission was handed a mandate by EU countries to kickstart trade negotiations with Washington on a separate deal.

Brussels officials will seek to eliminate trade tariffs on industrial goods on a “reciprocal basis”.

But the bloc has insisted it will not consider any approaches by Washington to include agricultural and fisheries products in the agreement.

The Commission estimates that breaking down the tariffs could boost EU exports to the US by seven percent.