EU-US trade spat: ‘This is the last thing we need,’ say EU farmers

By Niamh Michail contact

- Last updated on GMT

The EU will slap economic sanctions on imports of US foods in retaliation against steel tariffs, and is considering peanut butter, cranberries, orange juice and bourbon.  © iStock/leekris
The EU will slap economic sanctions on imports of US foods in retaliation against steel tariffs, and is considering peanut butter, cranberries, orange juice and bourbon. © iStock/leekris
A trade dispute between the US and EU would hit the agricultural sectors of both countries hard, farming association Copa and Cogeca has warned.

The trade association expressed “serious concerns​” about the threat of a trade war escalating with the USA and the “severe impact” ​ it would have on the EU and global agriculture sector.

Announced on 1 March and signed yesterday, the Donald Trump administration has imposed import duties of 25% on EU exports of steel and 10% on aluminium, with similar tariffs imposed on other countries.

The EU rejected US claims that the tariffs were based on national security, and has prepared a proposal of WTO-compatible countermeasures against the US  to rebalance the situation”.

Peanut butter, cranberries, orange juice and bourbon

EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström has confirmed that the EU list of US products to be considered for sanctions includes steel, industrial and agricultural products.

Peanut butter, cranberries, orange juice and bourbon are some of the the agri-food products on the list, which has been shared with member states. It will then be made public so that all stakeholders can consult and share their opinions before being finalised, Malmström said on Wednesday. "Those are the rules of the WTO​," she said. 

When Trump announced the tariffs, European Commission president Claude Juncker called the US sanctions a blatant intervention to protect US domestic industry and not to be based on any national security justification”.

“Protectionism cannot be the answer to our common problem in the steel sector. Instead of providing a solution, this move can only aggravate matters. The EU has been a close security ally of the US for decades. We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk,” he said.

Copa-Cogeca: '​This is the last thing we need'

Copa and Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen said: “We are very concerned that this could escalate and have a negative impact on the EU agriculture sector when we are talking about a trade dispute with the USA on imports of steel and aluminium.

“This dispute could hit the EU and USA agriculture sectors hard which is the last thing we need. The USA is a major client for EU agri-food products.

“We have a stable trade relationship with them on agriculture which we do not want to jeopardise. We call for moderation in the talks between the two sides to ensure that farmers do not end up paying the price of politics.”

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