WASHINGTON — The European Union won’t be trigger happy if it levies World Trade Organization-approved punitive tariffs on $4 billion worth of U.S. imports, including apparel.
That’s the word Wednesday from the European Commission, which decided to cap at 17 percent the level of extra duties it will levy should the U.S. not repeal an export tax subsidy the WTO has found to be competitively unfair. The EC, the parliamentary wing of the EU, could order up to 100 percent tariffs.
As reported, European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy has set an end-of-year deadline for Congress to repeal the export subsidy. Congressional lawmakers promised to meet the deadline, but repeal legislation remains bogged down.
Should punitive tariffs be levied, the EC would begin with duties of 5 percent that would be increased by 1 percent for each month the U.S. doesn’t comply until the cap is reached in March 2005. American products affected would include $100 million in annual shipments of apparel, $103 million worth of leather handbags and luggage, $16 million in cosmetics, $19 million of footwear and $500,000 in manmade filaments and cotton.