One of the popular illusions that Brexit supporters carried off during the campaigning of the last few years was to persuade people that the European Union (EU) was atypically bureaucratic. A false comparison often suggested that the UK should be more like the US and therefore less bureaucratic. This nonsense did seem to get into the public consciousness. Tabloid newspapers peddled the mirage of complete free trade. Even though it’s, as I say, complete and utter nonsense.
Just a few second of reading the US Federal Register, as I often did in my past roles, quickly shows the complexity of the legal and regulatory processes and structures in the US. Docket No. USTR–2019–0003 a “Review of Action: Enforcement of U.S. WTO Rights in Large Civil Aircraft Dispute” doesn’t make pleasant reading for the EU or the UK. In fact, there’s nothing to choose between how hard these measures hit EU Member States or the UK. Brexit doesn’t exist in this dispute.
The outcome of the review is that there will be an increase in the additional duty rate imposed on aircraft and parts imported from the EU and UK, effective from Wednesday, 18 March 2020. Rightly, the UK’s International Trade Secretary has expressed concern and disappointment. It’s interesting to speculate what this will do to future trade negotiations. This isn’t the zero-tariff world that Brexit supporters promised. In the real world, President Trump’s tariffs are popular amongst his supporter base and it’s an election year in the US.
European manufactures are also concerned and disappointed. The sad aspect of this escalation is retaliation and that it’s likely that the EU will impose tariffs on new large US aircraft later in the year.
My view is that, imposing tariffs on aircraft parts is in no one’s interest and harmful to not just the commercial health of the aviation industry but flight safety and security too.
By the way, on a lighter note US fedearal administrative language is a gem: For purposes of the subheading listed below, the informal product description defines and limits the scope of the proposed action and is intended to cover only a subsection of the subheading.