EU and US agree to suspend tariffs on billions of euro worth of trade

Boost for Kerrygold and Baileys as US tariffs lifted

Irish exports to the United States like Kerrygold and Baileys have received a boost following a decision by the United States and the European Union to suspend tariffs on products for four months.

The tariffs were imposed during the Trump administration due to a long-running WTO dispute over aircraft subsidies.

Irish butter, cheese and cream liqueurs were among the products hit by the US tariffs of up to 25 per cent, though Irish whiskey was exempt.

But in a phone call on Friday between President Joe Biden and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, both sides agreed to suspend tariffs for four months. It comes a day after the US announced it was suspending tariffs on British exports, including Scottish and Northern Irish single malt whiskeys.

The move was hailed as a “fresh start” to relations.

The four-month suspension of tariffs will allow the two sides to work on a resolution to the 16-year row over subsidies, which had seen the US slap tariffs on $7.5 billion in EU exports to the US and the EU to impose them on $4 billion’s worth of US exports to the EU.

“This is excellent news for businesses and industries on both sides of the Atlantic and a very positive signal for our economic co-operation in the years to come,” Dr von der Leyen said.

The Boeing-Airbus dispute is one of the longest running trade disputes between the US and EU.

The WTO ruled that Europe had not complied with an order to end illegal subsidies to aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, prompting the US to impose duties against the EU in 2018. The Geneva-based organisation then ruled last year that the United States had offered similar subsidies to the US aircraft manufacturer, Boeing.

Climate change

In a readout of the call issued by the White House, President Biden noted his “commitment to repair and revitalize the US-EU partnership.”

The conversation also touched on other areas of co-operation including on climate change, Covid-19 vaccine, and Nato. "We share a strategic outlook on Russia, " Dr von der Leyen said.

France welcomed the news as an end to the dispute. "We are at last ending the trade war between the United States and Europe that only makes losers," French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said in a statement.

“I am pleased for our French winegrowers. We must keep going on the road of co-operation in order to reach a final deal.”

EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis hailed the new agreement as "a significant step forward".

“It marks a reset in our relationship with our biggest and economically most important partner. Removing these tariffs is a win-win for both sides, at a time when the pandemic is hurting our workers and our economies,” Mr Dombrovskis said.

The suspension will take effect as soon as both sides have done the required internal procedures, the Commission said.