Europe Targets U.S. Coal, Farms in Election-Year Trade Staredown – by Bryce Baschuk (Bloomberg News – June 23, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — Transatlantic relations could reach a new low next month as the European Union readies tariffs on billions of dollars of American exports aimed at politically important industries for President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress.

The EU has asked the World Trade Organization to give it the green light to place levies on $11.2 billion of U.S. products over a long-running aircraft subsidies dispute. A ruling is expected as soon as July and the EU is planning to target coal producers, farmers and fisheries, in addition to the makers of aircrafts and parts.

The potential flashpoint comes at a sensitive time, with companies struggling under historic virus-induced recessions and as the November presidential election draws sensitive industries, especially in the American heartland, into ongoing trade conflicts.

Missouri, home to Republican Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, could be a focus of EU tariffs on coal as well as House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s California district that produces fruits and nuts.

While the EU has asked for a multibillion-dollar award in the case, in which the U.S. was found to have given illegal subsidies to Chicago-based Boeing Co., Washington has said it expects the WTO to issue a much narrower ruling, with only about $300 million at stake.

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