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US planes, tractors on EU tariff list over Boeing

[BRUSSELS] Planes, tractors, food and handbags featured on a list of US imports worth US$20 billion that the European Union said on Wednesday it could hit with tariffs in a transatlantic aircraft subsidy dispute.

The 28-nation bloc said this week it was ready to open negotiations with the United States to cut industrial duties, but has now detailed plans that could lead to a new tit-for-tat trade conflict between the two global powers.

Transatlantic tensions were enflamed again on Wednesday when Washington said it would end a ban against US citizens filing lawsuits against foreign companies operating in Cuba, with EU firms seen among the targets.

The two sides have been battling for almost 15 years at the World Trade Organisation over subsidies given to US planemaker Boeing and its European rival Airbus.

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Washington last week issued a seven-page list of EU products to target for tariffs, from large aircraft to dairy products and wine, to counteract US$11 billion of harm it says EU subsidies for Airbus have caused.

Brussels has responded with its own list of some US$20 billion worth of US imports, also including planes and wine.

The 11-page list also features a diverse range of agricultural produce from dried fruit to ketchup, as well as frozen fish, tobacco, handbags, suitcases, tractors, helicopters and video game consoles.

It is now open to a public consultation until May 31 and could then be revised.

Both sides have said they would prefer a settlement that did not lead to the imposition of tariffs.

"We must continue to defend a level-playing field for our industry. But let me be clear, we do not want a tit-for-tat," EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement

WTO arbitrators have yet to set amounts of damages or countermeasures in each case, but the U.S. case against Airbus is more advanced, with a ruling expected in June or July. Damages for the EU's Boeing complaint could come early in 2020.

REUTERS