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Exclusive: EU eyes 20 billion euros of U.S. imports to hit over Boeing - diplomats

Exclusive: EU eyes 20 billion euros of U.S. imports to hit over Boeing - diplomats
FILE PHOTO: U.S. and European Union flags are pictured during the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir   -   Copyright  Francois Lenoir(Reuters)
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By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission has drawn up a list of U.S. imports worth around 20 billion euros (17.3 billion pounds) that it could hit with tariffs over a transatlantic aircraft subsidy dispute, EU diplomats said.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened to impose tariffs on $11 billion worth of European Union products over what Washington sees as unfair subsidies given to European planemaker Airbus.

The EU measures would relate to the EU’s World Trade Organisation complaint over subsidies to Boeing.

WTO arbitrators have yet to set final amounts of potential countermeasures in each case.

The Commission said earlier this week that it had begun preparatory work on countermeasures in the Boeing case.

It added then that it was open for discussions with the U.S., provided these were without preconditions and aimed at achieving a fair outcome.

EU diplomats said the Commission was expected to publish a list of products on April 17 and begin a process of public consultation, after which the list could then be adjusted.

The final amount decided by the WTO arbitrator could also be lower. The EU had also initially requested that the WTO authorise countermeasures of $12 billion. The arbitrator’s decision may not come before March 2020.

The U.S. and Europe have been locked in dispute over mutual claims of illegal aid to their respective plane giants. The case has been grinding through the WTO for almost 15 years, yielding partial victories for both sides.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robin Emmott and Mike Harrison)

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