The White House announced Friday that it was hiking the tariffs on aircraft imported from Europe to 15%, up from 10%, but spared a variety of other products, such as wine, cheese, and olive oil from higher levies.
Trade groups had braced for increases on far more European Union products. The decision indicates that the Trump administration is holding fire, at least for now, in its trade dispute with the EU.
Last year, the Trump administration enacted 10%-25% tariffs on about $7.5 billion worth of European Union products, such as airplane parts, cheese, meats, olive oil, fruit juice, jelly, seafood, wine, and textiles. The tariffs were in retaliation for the European Union subsidizing Airbus. A World Trade Organization ruling late last year gave the administration the OK to raise the rates to as high as 100%.
Trade groups had feared the White House would try to really ratchet up the pressure on the EU. They argued that, even at the current rates, the tariffs were causing more harm than good. Michael Bilello, spokesman for Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, called on the U.S. and the EU “to negotiate a deal to end this trade dispute that is leading to loss of revenue, hiring freezes, and general uncertainty.”
Joe Profaci, executive director of the North American Olive Oil Association, told the Washington Examiner that his group’s members saw an 8% drop in sales in December, the first month that olive oil was subjected to 25% tariffs. “We’ve been on tenterhooks because olive oil is very price-sensitive. It’s a staple, but, if you don’t use olive oil, you can use another cooking oil,” he said.
The tariffs are a particular problem for Nola Palomar, a Dayton, Ohio-based, importer who specializes in Spanish wine. Palomar owns the vineyard in Spain her wine comes from, having inherited it from her late husband. “If there is a huge variable, like a potential 100% increase in your cost, there is no way you can plan,” she said.