No relief from tariffs on Irish dairy US trade Chief tells Government

United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Jon Elswick/AP)
United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Jon Elswick/AP)
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

US Trade Chief Robert Lighthizer has said there would be no early relief for Irish dairy processors from tariffs imposed by the United States in October as punishment for illegal EU aircraft subsidies.

It is understood that some 40,000t of Irish dairy product could be impacted by the extra tariff annually costing the sector an estimated at €41m.

The US decided to slap 25pc duties on Irish dairy products, French wine and Scotch whiskey after the World Trade Organization gave Washington the green light to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of EU goods annually in the long-running case, a move that now threatens to ignite a tit-for-tat transatlantic trade war.

Irish products targeted include cheeses, butter and liqueurs, which could impact well-known brands such as Baileys and Kerrygold.

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys recently wrote to her counterpart, United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer to underline Ireland’s disappointment at the tariffs applied on Irish products.

She also stressed the negative effect of tariffs on both the farming community nationwide and those living and working in border areas already affected by the economic uncertainty of Brexit.

However, Ambassador Lighthizer, in his reply did not offer any early relief; Minister Humphreys said in response to a parliamentary question last week.

Also last week the  World Trade Organization rejected European Union claims that it no longer provides subsidies to planemaker Airbus, prompting the United States to say it could increase retaliatory tariffs on a wider range of European goods.

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USTR, which imposed tariffs of 10% on large civil EU aircraft and 25% on selected farm and other products in October, said it would look at raising tariff rates and subjecting additional EU products to the tariffs. It gave no immediate details on the size of the possible increases, or which products could be added to the current list.

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