EU, China Squeeze U.S. on Trade

June 25, 2020
The Trump administration is threatening to impose a new round of tariffs against the European Union, while trying to prop up a trade agreement with China.

The Trump administration is threatening to impose a new round of tariffs against food and other products from the European Union, while trying to prop up a trade agreement with China.

The administration is targeting a range of EU food products, including cheese and other dairy products, beer, pork, olives and more. It’s part of an ongoing U.S.-EU trade dispute involving subsidies to each side’s domestic airline industries. The U.S. has already slapped tariffs of up to 25% on EU goods as a result of this dispute, in which it has won a favorable ruling from the World Trade Organization. The new round of tariffs, comprising about $3.1 billion in imports, could reach 100%.

The action, by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, was denounced by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, which says its members have already lost money from the first round of tariffs in this dispute.

“The U.S. distilled spirits sector strongly opposes any additional spirits tariffs, which would only escalate trade tensions across the Atlantic and further jeopardize American companies and hospitality jobs already under duress as a result of COVID-19,” the council said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the administration is trying to sustain a trade deal with China that is tottering in the wake of tensions between the two countries.

In a meeting in Hawaii between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi, China recommitted to following through on the first phase of a trade deal it signed in January.

Under that deal, China was supposed to buy about $35.8 billion worth of agricultural goods from America in the first four months of this year, but has bought only $4.65 billion. China had told companies at the beginning of June not to buy soybeans and other American products, apparently in retaliation for American support for Hong Kong protests against the Chinese regime.

Yang agreed to keep up agricultural purchases under the trade agreement, but reiterated Chinese grievances against the U.S., including tensions over Hong Kong and Chinese naval bases in the South China Sea.

In a tweet June 18, President Trump remarked, “The US certainly does maintain a policy option, under various conditions, of a complete decoupling from China.”

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