Trade war on Western front: US slaps 25% tariffs on French wine, Italian cheese & Scotch whisky

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The Trump administration has opened another front in its global trade war, slapping the EU with a hefty 25 percent tariff on a variety of industrial and agricultural products, risking a tit-for-tat response.

The new duties will apply to Scotch whisky, French wine and cheese from Italy, among other goods from Germany, the UK and Spain, but exempt certain products, including Italian wine. The fresh American tariffs will also target sweaters, wool, cashmere and other clothing items, as well as olives. In addition, a 10 percent duties will be imposed on “large civil aircraft.” They are set to take effect on October 18.

Washington stressed that it “has the authority to increase the tariffs at any time” – including up to 100 percent – “or change the products affected,” but the Office of the US Trade Representative generously announced that they will be kept more limited “at this time.”

The move comes after a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that found Boeing had lost some $7.5 billion a year due to subsidies handed out by European governments to the company’s arch competitor, Airbus. The European aircraft manufacturer has filed a similar complaint against the US Boeing, which is still pending a decision, giving Washington a moral high ground for a time being.

France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire warned last month that Europe was “ready to react” with tariffs of its own if Washington pressed ahead with any new duties, but expressed hopes for a “friendly agreement” with US trade representatives.

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