The Airbus tariff jitterbug continues.
The office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer shifted around some of the duties charged on British and European imports in the longstanding trade spat, but kept the percentages charged at the border the same.
For instance, British-made wool and cashmere sweaters and pullovers and men’s and boys’ suits made of wool or fine animal hair remain subject to the additional 25 percent tariff imposed in October, after the World Trade Organization approved retaliatory action given European subsidies to Airbus.
The USTR removed tariffs on some goods from Greece and the United Kingdom, but added tariffs to an equivalent amount of imports from France and Germany. Overall, the orders still cover $7.5 billion worth of imports, with 15 percent duties on aircraft and 25 percent on other goods.
“The EU and member states have not taken the actions necessary to come into compliance with WTO decisions,” Lighthizer said. “The United States, however, is committed to obtaining a long-term resolution to this dispute. Accordingly, the United States will begin a new process with the EU in an effort to reach an agreement that will remedy the conduct that harmed the U.S. aviation industry and workers and will ensure a level playing field for U.S. companies.”
The result could have been worse for British brands as the tariffs could have gone up to 100 percent.
Even though Airbus recently promised to stop accepting the subsidies in question, the tariff crossfire could continue. The EU has alleged U.S. aids Airbus competitor Boeing, and could impose its own duties on U.S.-made goods.
Fashion lobbyists in Washington have argued these tariffs are the last thing the industry needs, particularly during the stresses of the coronavirus crisis.
Beth Hughes, vice president of trade and customs policy at the American Apparel & Footwear Association, in official comments on the matter to the U.S. government, said: “The apparel and footwear industry has become collateral damage in trade disputes negatively affecting the entire supply chain.…This dispute has already caused a negative impact on the industry.”