Published On: Wed, Oct 16th, 2019

Donald Trump to hammer home EU tariffs message as US leader cracks down on Brussels | World | News

The US President is set to meet his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella at the White House. Mr Trump is expected to bring up a new Italian digital tax during the talks and threaten US retaliation.

A US official said Mr Trump “believes this is an unfair discrimination on US companies since they are the primary companies that would be affected by such a tax.

“If such targeting of US companies is done, he would have no choice but to retaliate to protect US businesses.”

It follows reports that Italy will bring in a tax on digital companies next year.

US trade chief Robert Lighthizer said in a statement: “For years, Europe has been providing massive subsidies to Airbus that have seriously injured the US aerospace industry and our works.

“We expect to enter into negotiations with the EU aimed at resolving this issue in a way will benefit American workers.”

The US had hoped to impose tariffs of around £9 billion in goods.

But the WTO reduced the figure by around a third, as it sanctioned the largest penalty of its kind in the organisation’s history.

Mr Lighthizer said he expected to “enter into negotiations with the EU aimed at resolving this issue in a way that will benefit American workers”.

In a bid to prevent a full-blown trade war, the European Commission claimed it hopes to reach a sensible, negotiated settlement.

A spokesman added: “But if the US decides to import WTO authorised countermeasures, it will be pushing the EU into a situation where we will have no other option than do the same.”

The Brussels-based EU executive has proposed tariffs worth £15 billion on US goods to the WTO and is awaiting authorisation.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission’s outgoing president, said: “Trade wars are easy to start but escalate quickly and usually end badly.

“Whoever starts a trade war will end badly in his own camp. Europe will always defend free and fair trade, based on a level-playing field and reciprocity.

“We will not be naive but we are ready, willing and determined to do business. If someone is importing tariffs on our aviation sector, we will do exactly the same – exactly the same.”

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