U.S. Considering Tariffs on European Aircraft and Aircraft Parts

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has announced a preliminary proposal to implement new tariffs on a range of European products with a significant focus on the civil aviation sector, including both parts and completed aircraft.  The proposed tariffs arise as a result of a long-running WTO case brought by the U.S. against the EU and France, Germany, Spain, and the UK.  The WTO found that the EU provided substantial “launch aid” to Airbus and that those subsidies both helped Airbus launch its commercial aircraft and cost Boeing market share.

The purpose of the tariffs (or countermeasures) is to offset the estimated $11 billion per year in trade harm the USTR estimates result from EU subsidies.

It is unclear at this point at what rate tariffs would be imposed on the particular goods identified.  The proposed HTS numbers affected include numbers that are very familiar to the distribution community, including 8803.20.0030, 8803.30.0030, and 8803.90.9030, however, the scope appears to be limited to parts imported “for use in new civil aircraft, not for use by the Department of Defense or the U.S. Coast Guard, of an unladen weight exceeding 15,000 kg provided for in statistical reporting numbers 8802.40.0040, 8802.40.0060 and 8802.40.0070.” Thus from the language it appears the countermeasures target the importation of parts used in the manufacture of new aircraft, but not for the maintenance of the existing fleet.  Anyone supporting the production of new civil aircraft would be well advised to review the HTS numbers proposed for countermeasures.  They can be found here.

The USTR has requested public comments on the proposed action.  Comments can be submitted through http://www.regulations.gov under docket number USTR-2019-0003.  Any comments must be submitted by May 28, 2019.

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