04:46 GMT02 December 2020
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    Brussels had planned to make the next move in the 16-year-old transatlantic dispute with the United States just days before the presidential election, but decided to postpone it, fearing it could influence the outcome of the vote.

    The European Union is likely to impose tariffs on $4 billion worth of imports from the US next week, anonymous EU diplomats said on 6 November. According to the officials, a majority of the bloc’s governments have given the green light to introduce the punitive measures against the United States, which will hit a range of goods, from potatoes, fruits, nuts, and other agricultural produce, to parts of planes, alcoholic beverages, and equipment used in casinos.

    The tariffs are expected to be put in place during a meeting of EU trade ministers, which is scheduled for 9 November.

    "I would expect the tariffs to be imposed next Tuesday or Wednesday", an EU diplomat said.

    The punitive measure was previously approved by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and will mirror US tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of EU goods and services that Washington imposed in October 2019. The two cases represent the world’s largest corporate trade dispute.

    US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has not commented on the issue. However, last month he emphasised that any restrictive measures from the European Union would "force a US response". US President Donald Trump previously threatened to "strike back harder" if the bloc introduces tariffs. Although the results of the 2020 presidential election in the United are still unclear, even if Trump loses, his administration would have plenty of time to impose tariffs, as he will remain president until 20 January 2021.

    The dispute between the United States and the European Union started in 2004, with both sides accusing each other of illegal financial assistance to aircraft manufacturers. Washington said Brussels was providing subsidies to Airbus through low interest rates, while the EU, in turn, accused the United States of offering financial support via tax breaks. Both sides filed complaints with the WTO.

    Tags:
    Donald Trump, trade dispute, European Union, World Trade Organization (WTO), Boeing, Airbus, trade, Robert Lighthizer, United States
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