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Scalfarotto “It was thanks to teamwork. Immediately a negotiation between the US and the EU”

The US administration has introduced new customs duties on EU products, but it has not affected Italy, as it did in October. Are you satisfied?

“We have avoided new customs duties and we are very satisfied with this – says the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Ivan Scalfarotto (Italia Viva) -. The government and the institutions at all levels have done a great teamwork: eventually, thanks to the recent mission I led in the United States and to the extraordinary activity of our Embassy in Washington, we have ensured that there will be no new duties, in addition to those that were already imposed by the Trump administration last October, which had also affected Italian products, especially cheese and alcoholic beverages, costing Italy 468 million per year. A very important result, considering that products such as wine, pasta, coffee and leather goods were at risk. Moreover, we have managed to avoid an increase in the previous customs duties, considering, for instance, that they already amount to 40% on Parmigiano Reggiano “.

The already imposed duties and the indirect repercussions of tax increasing on Airbus stand.

“We are not part of the Airbus consortium. It is a conscious choice, linked to our relations with Boeing, as we have reiterated to the American administration. However, it is clear that in a globalized world, Italy, which is the seventh exporting country in the world, is damaged when the international market is closed. Instead, our primary interest is that trade is as free and fair as possible”.

Does the US Government still have margins to increase duties, affecting Italy as well?

“The WTO, i.e. the World Trade Organisation, has authorised 7.5 billion duties in response to State aid given to the Airbus consortium. Last October, the US imposed 2.5 billion duties. Even after these new duties, they are still likely to have room for manoeuvre. In this framework, we urged a mission to the US, where I met the Department of Commerce, the State Department, the White House and the Trade Institute, the one that factually makes decisions on customs duties. We stated the risks related to new duties, considering that Italian food products are linked to entire American supply chains, from distribution to catering and that, according to the calculations of the US administration itself, the already decided duties weigh an average of 414 dollars per year on American families’ spending. Eventually, the letter addressed to the administration by a group of US parliamentarians who asked to avoid imposing new duties to Italy was crucial”.

But the match isn’t over.

“In May the WTO will make a decision on US aid to Boeing. In that moment, it could be likely that EU countries will be authorised to impose customs duties on US goods. But, instead of keeping going by the logic of imposition of duties on each other, it would make sense to open negotiations on how to properly support the aviation industry”.

Being Trump on his presidential campaign, is it harder to reach an agreement?

“That may be so, but President Trump may have an interest in getting to the vote having reached a trade agreement with the EU.”

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