Donohoe to raise concerns about tariffs on US trip

Minister is visiting US capital to attend the autumn meetings of the IMF

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue is visiting the US capital to attend the autumn meetings of the IMF. Photographer: Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Bloomberg

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue is visiting the US capital to attend the autumn meetings of the IMF. Photographer: Paulo Nunes dos Santos/Bloomberg

 

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue is to raise concerns about new tariffs imposed by the United States on European exports, including Irish food products, as he heads to Washington later today.

Mr Donohoe, who is visiting the US capital to attend the autumn meetings of the IMF, is expected to highlight Ireland’s serious concern about the decision to impose up to $7.5 billion (€6.84 billion) worth of tariffs on European exports.

Irish food products including Baileys and Kerrygold butter are impacted by the move which enters into effect this week. Irish cheese products will also be affected.

Irish whiskey was spared from the levies, though some product lines of Northern Ireland-produced Bushmills will be hit. However, liqueurs were included in the product lines published by the US, a move that was impact products like Baileys.

Kerrygold, which is the second best-selling butter in the United States is expected to be particularly impacted as it faces a 25 per cent tariff. More than 34,000 tonnes of the Irish product was sold in the United States in 2018.

The US announced plans to impose the punitive tariffs on a range of product lines earlier this month after the WTO issued a judgment in a long-running trade dispute over what it says are unfair subsidies given to Airbus in Europe. Most of the tariffs are applies to imports from France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom - the countries who have been accused of subsidizing the aircraft industry. However, exports from Italy and Ireland have also been targetted. Products as diverse as bed linen, wine and olive oil are included in the tariff plan announced by the US trade representative’s office.

A parallel case taken by the EU accusing the United States of illegally subsidizing aircraft maker Boeing is due to be resolved next spring, prompting hopes that some kind of compromise agreement can be made between the two blocs.

Mr Donohoe is due to meet senior figures within the Trump administration including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Several meetings are also scheduled on Capitol Hill with both Democrat and Republican members of Vongress, including Richard Neal, chairman of the Ways and Means committee and Senator Chuck Grassley who chairs the Senate Finance Committee.

In addition to meetings at the IMF and World Bank, Mr Donohoe will deliver an address at the Brookings Institute on Thursday in which he is expected to address the challenges posed by Brexit and the future of relations between Ireland, Britain and the European Union.