Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Imported Gouda cheese is displayed at a store in San Francisco on Aug. 26, 2019.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump hailed a “nice victory” on Thursday after the United States got the green light to place tariffs on European Union goods in a dispute over EU aircraft subsidies.

But Wednesday’s decision by the World Trade Organization (WTO) left Scottish whisky makers, Spanish winemakers and French cheese makers fuming as the U.S. tariffs targeted products from countries in the Airbus consortium.

Engineers in Germany worried that the dispute over subsidies granted to the European plane maker was leading to “a table-tennis match” over trans-Atlantic tariffs, and France and Germany signalled retaliatory moves by the EU.

Story continues below advertisement

The WTO decision gave the United States the go-ahead to impose tariffs on US$7.5-billion worth of EU goods annually in the long-running case. The global trade watchdog will hold a special meeting of its Dispute Settlement Body on Oct. 14 to formally adopt the decision.

The dispute darkens a global economic outlook that has already been dimmed by a U.S.-China trade war now in its second year. Washington and Beijing have imposed tariffs on each other’s goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter the EU “has for many years treated the USA very badly on Trade due to Tariffs, Trade Barriers, and more. This case going on for years, a nice victory!”

Washington said that, after 15 years of litigation, it would impose 10-per-cent tariffs on Airbus planes, a move that could hurt orders by U.S. airlines, and 25 per cent duties on French wine, Scotch and Irish whiskies, and cheese from across the Continent.

The size and scope of the tariffs were reduced considerably from a $25-billion list floated by Washington this year that included helicopters, major aircraft components, seafood and luxury goods.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said it would continually re-evaluate the tariffs based on its discussions with the EU, but could increase the tariffs “at any time, or change the products affected.”

White House trader adviser Peter Navarro, speaking with Fox Business Network on Thursday, warned Europe against retaliatory measures since the U.S. tariffs were approved by the WTO.

Story continues below advertisement

“There’s going to be no tit-for-tat retaliation,” Mr. Navarro said. “Under the rules of the WTO, which we’re complying with here, we get to do this and they should not do anything back.”

But French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said preparations were under way in Europe to react with sanctions.

“If the American administration rejects the hand that has been held out by France and the European Union, we are preparing ourselves to react with sanctions,” he said..

His German counterpart, Olaf Scholz, told the mass-circulation Bild newspaper the past few months had shown that trade conflicts helped no one, adding, “Therefore we will react to the new situation in a determined but considered way.”

Britain said it was seeking confirmation from the WTO that it had complied with the organization’s rulings and should not face tariffs. U.S. tariffs on European goods have plunged the U.K. into a trade war between the United States and the EU just as it plans to leave the 28-country bloc.

The Scottish Whisky Association said jobs and investment were at risk from a 25 per cent tariff on single malt. Scotch whisky exports to the United States, the industry’s biggest single market, were worth £1-billion ($1.64-billion) last year.

Story continues below advertisement

“Despite the fact that this dispute is about aircraft subsidies, our sector has been hit hard,” the association’s chief executive, Karen Betts, said in a statement, urging restraint from both sides.


Spanish vintners said their wine would cost too much in U.S. stores if tariffs were confirmed.

“The tariffs will affect our competitivity,” said a spokesman for CECRV, the association for producers of Spanish wines such as Rioja and Cava.

Germany’s VDMA engineering association said it was disappointed the European Commission, the EU executive, had not defused the row. “The current situation resembles a table tennis match,” said VDMA trade expert Ulrich Ackermann.

Spanish olives, British sweaters and woollens, and German tools and coffee were targeted in addition to British whisky and French wine.

Cheese from nearly every EU country will also be hit with the 25 per cent tariffs, but Italian wine and olive oil were spared, along with European chocolate.

Story continues below advertisement

“Dairy products are going to be directly hit ... we are going to fight for these measures to be delayed,” said Michel Nalet, spokesman for France’s Lactalis group, the world’s biggest dairy firm, which makes butter and cheeses under the President label.

The U.S.-based Cheese Importers Association of America said it would challenge a decision by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to skip offering a grace period for goods that were already in transit when the tariffs took effect.

There was relief for some who had expected to be drawn into the row but were not.

Shares in European luxury goods, including British fashion brand Burberry, and drinks companies, such as France’s Rémy Cointreau, rose on Thursday, after the tariffs excluded cognac, Champagne and leather goods.

One person familiar with the case said the U.S. Trade Representative was deliberately not using the full extent of WTO-approved ruling to coax the EU into negotiations.

Airbus and U.S. firm Boeing Co., the world’s two largest plane makers, have waged a war of attrition over subsidies at the WTO since 2004. The dispute has tested the trade policeman’s influence and is expected to set the tone for competition from would-be rivals from China.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies