Fresh fruit including oranges and lemons are on a list of European products threatened with tariffs in an escalating trade dispute between the US and Brussels over subsidies received by aircraft maker Airbus.
The Trump administration said on Monday that it was considering imposing US$11.2bn worth of tariffs on a raft of products, from helicopters, aircraft, motorcycles, ceramic tiles and handbags to a range of imported foods including cheese, salmon, olive oil and wine.
In a statement on Monday, the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) at the World Trade Organization said it has repeatedly found that European subsidies to Airbus have affected the US adversely.
“This case has been in litigation for 14 years, and the time has come for action,” said US trade representative Robert Lighthizer.
“Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft. When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional US duties imposed in response can be lifted.”
The statement added that the final amount it would seek in duties was subject to arbitration at the WTO, the result of which was expected in the summer.
On Tuesday, President Trump tweeted: “The World Trade Organization finds that the European Union subsidies to Airbus has adversely impacted the US, which will now put tariffs on US$11bn of EU products! The EU has taken advantage of the US on trade for many years. It will soon stop!”
The row has been simmering for more than 14 years, with Washington and Brussels accusing each other of unfairly subsidising Boeing and Airbus respectively.
The proposed tariffs, which would come on top of existing tariffs on European steel and aluminium imports, come at a sensitive time for the EU, which is preparing for elections to the European Parliament next month and is at the height of Brexit negotiations.