Phil Hogan became the European Commissioner for Trade on December 1, 2019. He arrived in Washington D.C., to discuss various issues with U.S. officials.
As part of his first official visit, he met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer as well as with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Hogan discussed the details of his visit on Thursday. He was optimistic that the European Union and the U.S. could work together despite the issues. Trade Commissioner also mentioned that he received no promises from the Trump administration regarding the tariffs on European goods. As a reminder, the U.S. could add duties on about $10 billion worth of products.
U.S. officials are not happy with France’s new digital tax. According to the officials, this tax discriminates against U.S. tech companies. They once more expressed their position during the meetings with Phil Hogan. Moreover, U.S. representatives made it clear that the EU’s proposals concerning the government subsidies for Airbus do not eliminate U.S. concerns.
Moreover, both problems discussed above prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to threaten the EU with tariffs.
Trade Representative Lighthizer threatened to impose 100 percent levies on $2.4 billion worth of French goods.
The U.S. is currently studying the options to make the decision whether to raise retaliatory duties on $7.5 billion of European airplanes, wines, etc. This measure is connected with a dispute regarding the EU subsidies for Airbus.
Interestingly, tariffs of 10% to 25% are already in place on those goods. However, this is not the end; the U.S. could raise the tariffs as high as 100% thanks to the World Trade Organization’s ruling. The WTO ruled the European Union failed to solve this issue.
The trade dispute between the U.S. and EU
Phil Hogan also addressed the EU-U.S. trade relationship earlier on Thursday during his speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
He emphasized the importance of his first visit. Trade Commissioner mentioned he had the opportunity to meet new people. Also, Hogan was happy with the reaction; he received from the people he met during his stay in Washington D.C.
Nevertheless, Hogan understood that is was impossible to solve all the issues in a couple of days. It makes sense as the problems started a long time ago. People should not exaggerate the importance of those meetings. The negotiations process is not over, and politicians should try not to make comments that could harm the relationship between the U.S. and the EU.
EU trade chief said the EU is ready to negotiate with the United States to deal with Airbus subsidy issue. As a reminder, the EU is waiting for the final ruling from WTO on the amount of retaliation the bloc can impose. The EU challenged the U.S. government’s support for Boeing.
Hogan did not forget to mention that the U.S. and EU have the potential to work together and he recalled the case of the beef deal.
To sum up, the U.S. and the EU should work together with the risk of a new trade war. The trade war between the U.S. and China shows that trade disputes are easy to initiate but it is tough to finish on time.