US, EU agree tariff freeze in aircraft dispute - GulfToday

US, EU agree tariff freeze in aircraft dispute


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The European Union and the United States agreed on Friday to suspend tariffs imposed on billions of dollars of imports in a 16-year-old dispute over aircraft subsidies and said any solution would need to focus on China.

The two sides said in a joint statement that the four-month suspension would cover all United States tariffs on $7.5 billion of European Union imports and all EU duties on $4 billion of US products, which resulted from long-running World Trade organisation cases over subsidies for planemakers Airbus and Boeing.

It would ease the burden on industry and workers and focus efforts on resolving the conflict, the statement said.

Key elements of a solution would include outstanding and future support measures, monitoring and enforcement, and “addressing the trade distortive practices of and challenges posed by new entrants from non-market economies, such as China”.

The suspension followed a telephone call between United States President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

The White House said Biden had underscored his support for the European Union and his commitment to repair and revitalise the US-EU partnership.

Von der Leyen described the accord as excellent news for businesses and industries on both sides of the Atlantic, and a very positive signal for economic cooperation in the years to come.

EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis hailed a reset in the EU’s relationship with its biggest and economically most important partner.

“Removing these tariffs is a win-win for both sides, at a time when the pandemic is hurting our workers and our economies,” he said.

The US tariffs cover EU planes and plane parts, wine and jam from France and Germany, Spanish olives, Germany coffee, screwdrivers and other tools, and liqueurs, cheese and pork from across the European Union. EU tariff targets also include US planes and parts, along with tobacco, nuts, sweet potatoes, rum, vodka, gym equipment, casino tables, tractors and machines used in construction known as shovel-loaders.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States said the tariff suspension was a “promising breakthrough” at a critical time for the hospitality industry.

“Lifting this tariff burden will support the recovery of restaurants, bars and small craft distilleries...that were forced to shut down their businesses during the pandemic,” it said.

Friday’s agreement between Brussels and Washington mirrors the four-month tariff suspension agreed on Thursday by the United States and Britain.

Biden and von der Leyen also discussed the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling climate change and strengthening democracy during their call, as well as China, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and the Western Balkans. Norwegian cancellations: The disappearance of billions of dollars’ worth of orders from troubled budget carrier Norwegian Air has left Europe’s Airbus with more cancellations than orders so far this year, company data showed on Friday.

Norwegian last month obtained an Irish court’s agreement to cancel all 88 aircraft on order from Airbus as it staves off collapse. It remains at loggerheads with Boeing over the status of a separate order for 97 US passenger jets.

The airline’s name was dropped from a monthly update of orders issued by Airbus on Friday, leaving the European firm with a negative total of 81 orders for January and February.

Reuters first reported hefty upcoming order cancellations on Feb. 23, on the eve of a court hearing at which agreement over the terms of the cancellation was announced.

The cancellation marks a turning point in the jet industry, nine years after Airbus and Boeing waged an epic contest for the young airline’s Business. After losing the main order battle to Boeing, Airbus struck a last-ditch deal to sell 100 of its own planes to help the airline set up its own leasing operation at a time of booming travel demand, people familiar with the negotiations said.

The deal was widely seen as a high point in a bruising market-share war between plane giants that weighed on prices and stoked trade tensions as budget carriers took advantage of cheap interest rates to scoop up the latest fuel-saving airplanes.

But the gamble did not pay off and Norwegian’s plans to diversify into financing, as well as losses at its core airline, left a hole in the production plans of both planemakers. After growing rapidly to become Europe’s third-largest low-cost airline and the biggest foreign carrier serving New York and other major US cities, Norwegian sought bankruptcy protection last November with debts over $7 billion. Airbus said on Friday it had sold 10 A320neos to an unidentified customer.

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