EU imposing tariffs on US goods is wrong move, says Czech foreign minister

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Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček considers the introduction of tariffs on goods imported from the United States to the European Union to be the right move at the moment. According to him, it would be better to wait for the new administration of Joe Biden to take office, but he respects the decision. The Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček called on the European Commission ministerial video conference to seek a friendly solution to the dispute.

The EU will introduce tariffs totaling 4 billion dollars (€3,4 billion) a year in retaliation for Washington’s support to aircraft manufacturer Boeing. The European customs bloc will come into force on Tuesday as it is the last step in a 16-year transatlantic dispute over aircraft manufacturers. The US has previously introduced tariffs on European goods due to subsidies by European aircraft manufacturer Airbus. At the end of October, the World Trade Organization (WTO) also authorized EU customs retaliation for Washington’s support to Boeing.

“I don’t consider it a step in the right direction at the moment. I think we should have waited for a new administration in the USA. Nevertheless, I respect the decision. I hope that economic relations between the EU and the USA will improve rather than further complicate with the new president, “Petříček wrote to Czech News Agency.

At yesterday’s ministerial meeting, Minister Karel Havlíček called on the European Commission to work for a friendly solution to the dispute, the press department of the Ministry of Industry informed. Following the outcome of the presidential election, he also hopes to strengthen cooperation, support multilateral structures, including the WTO, and, in the longer term, negotiate an ambitious trade agreement between the EU and the US.

“The United States is our key partner with whom we should seek cooperation in some areas, including new technologies, such as cybersecurity, 5G, or artificial intelligence. We also need the United States when it comes to finding solutions to global problems,” Havlíček said.

Tariffs are most likely to affect American aircraft and their components, as well as fruit, nuts and other agricultural products, orange juice, some spirits, and other goods, from construction machinery to tables for casinos.

UniCredit Bank’s chief economist Pavel Sobíšek believes that the new tariffs may make some food and alcoholic beverages more expensive. But this is not a fundamental change. Whether the price increase will actually occur will also depend on the business policy of the sellers, he said. Like Petříček, the Confederation of Industry and Transport prefers that the EU wait until the Biden administration takes office before the tariffs are introduced.

Title image: Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Facebook)

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