The United States was given a go-ahead to impose levies on $7.5 billion worth of EU goods by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which ruled in Washington’s favour in the long-lasting battle over Airbus subsidies. The United States is now requesting the watchdog to approve 10 percent tariffs on EU civil aircraft and 25 percent tariffs on a number of food and agricultural products, most of which come from Spain, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
"This morning, the secretary of state for the European Union summoned the US ambassador to express the government's sharp repudiation of these measures," the Spanish government said in a statement.
The Spanish authorities said that they saw the US plans, which will primarily harm agricultural producers, as unacceptable. They also recalled that the WTO arbitration was currently considering an EU request to impose sanctions against the US for its subsidies for Boeing.
Madrid, therefore, called for EU-US negotiations to reach an agreement that would help avoid "actions harmful for both sides."
According to the Spanish government, the looming duties are yet another US attack on Spanish and European interests, following the duties on aluminium and steel as well as the application of the Helms-Burton Act on enforcing the embargo on Cuba.
The statement finally expressed hope that the US administration would backtrack on its plans. Otherwise, it says, Spain "will act immediately and firmly to protect the interests of its citizens and businesses."
In particular, Madrid warned that it might request the European Commission to invoke the WTO-authorized countermeasures against 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) worth of US goods as part of the 2004 subsidy case.
In addition, it intends to ask the bloc for measures of support for the agricultural sector, in particular, olive oil producers.
The Spanish agricultural association, COAG, meanwhile, has estimated possible losses from the US tariffs at over $1 billion. The United States is Spain’s biggest agricultural export market outside Europe and accounts for a bulk of its wine, olive, oil and cheese sales.