April 12, 2019

U.S. Trade Representative Initiates Section 301 Investigation of European Union Subsidies for Large Civil Aircraft

By Douglas J. Heffner, Richard P. Ferrin and Jared A. Angle

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has initiated a Section 301 investigation of European Union subsidies to producers of large civil aircraft and has proposed a list of EU products that would be subject to additional duties if the United States receives approval from the World Trade Organization (WTO) to proceed with retaliatory duties later in 2019. The United States and European Union have been involved in WTO dispute settlement proceedings regarding subsidies for large civil aircraft since 2004. Importantly, although the dispute stems from trade practices regarding civil aircraft, the proposed retaliatory duties would cover 326 Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) subheadings and would affect a wide array of products and industries.

The interagency Section 301 Committee is seeking public comments on the proposed duties and will hold a public hearing. The Committee has set the following deadlines:

  • May 6, 2019: Due date for submission of requests to appear at the public hearing and summary of testimony.
  • May 15, 2019: The Section 301 Committee will convene a public hearing in the Main Hearing Room of the U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436 beginning at 9:30 a.m.
  • May 28, 2019: Due date for submission of written comments, including post-hearing rebuttal comments.

USTR invites comments with respect to any aspect of the proposed action including the following:

  • The specific products to be subject to increased duties, including whether products listed in the Annex should be retained or removed, or whether products not currently on the list should be added.
  • The level of the increase, if any, in the rate of duty.
  • The appropriate aggregate level of trade to be covered by additional duties.
  • Whether increased duties on particular products might have an adverse effect upon U.S. stakeholders, including small businesses and consumers.

Additional duties proposed by USTR target certain products from all EU member states, including various cheeses, seafood, fruit spreads, wine and brandy, textiles and apparel, optical instruments, certain tools, knives, stone and ceramics, glassware, precious metals, and other raw materials, including alloys and basic metal products. A subset of proposed items targeting only imports from France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom include civil helicopters, civil passenger and cargo aircraft, and certain parts thereof.

If you would like to submit written comments to the Section 301 Committee or request a hearing, please contact Douglas J. Heffner, Richard P. Ferrin, or any other member of the Customs and International Trade Team.

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