US to impose tariffs on European cheese, wine, coffee, whisky and aircraft
Updated 23:18, 03-Oct-2019
Patrick Atack
North America;Washington

The World Trade Organisation has ruled the US is allowed to impose billions of dollars worth of tariffs on European goods, in a case that dates back to 2004.

This tariff battle started 15-years ago, over the state loans that were given to airplane manufacturer Airbus. But the levies given the go-ahead today span far wider than the aerospace industry. 

US officials have stated that rates will start at 10% on aircraft and 25% on agricultural goods, food and other items. However they warned both the rates charged and goods affected could change with little or no warning. These don't cover all goods imported from the EU to the US, but below is a list of some of the products targeted. 

Members of the European Parliament have written to their counterparts in the US Congress to express "concern" over the WTO decision and its consequences. 

"The mutual imposition of tariffs can only be described as a lose-lose situation," they wrote. 

"Trade wars know no winners and in these challenging times, our transatlantic partnership should be strengthened, rather than undermined," the letter added. 

Italian cheeses like Parmesan are included in the tariffs (Credit: REUTERS/Yara Nardi)

Italian cheeses like Parmesan are included in the tariffs (Credit: REUTERS/Yara Nardi)

What is going to cost more? 

The first area to be hit is aircraft - which is to be expected, as the row began over so-called state aid to aircraft manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic. Military aircraft are exempt. 

But after the obvious, the list expands, and is split by the country of each goods' origin. 

From the UK, single malt Irish and Scottish Whiskies will carry a 25% tax when imported to the US. Blends, however, escape the charge. 

Also attracting a 25% tax is a variety of woolen and cotton products, such as sweaters, suits and even swimwear. Bed linens made of cotton, whether or not they are embroidered or contain lace, will be hit. 

From Germany, coffee is a big loser - with any roasted or instant coffee (unless it's flavored) being levied at 25%. But the majority of German products hit by the tariffs are tools, such as pliers, screwdrivers and metal knife blades. 

Cheese tax

Foodstuffs make up the majority of the levy list. 

In fact, the 'nibbles' section of US supermarkets appears to be on the US Trade Representatives target. Products such as European cheeses, olives, some prepared pork (like salami, sausages or black pudding - but not ham) are all hit with a 25% rate. 

While many of the sanctions listed above are directed at certain countries, other produce is hit by a blanket tariff for all European imports. 

Wine from France, Germany, Spain or the United Kingdom is taxed at 25% unless it's carbonated or transported in containers over two liters. Tokay wine from Hungary is exempt from the charges. 

Dairy produce is a key area - Donald Trump has been criticized for his administration's trade policies having a negative effect on the dairy industry. These tariffs could be designed to help American dairy farmers.

Yogurt, butter, dairy-derived oils, creams and kephir are listed, along with a substantial list of cheeses, including: 

Swiss or Emmentaler (from 25 nations, not including Switzerland) 

Gruyere (or Gruyere-process)


Fresh (unripened/uncured) cheddar cheese

Stilton cheese

Blue-veined cheese (except Roquefort)

Colby cheese

Goya cheese from cow's milk





Source(s): Reuters