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An Airbus A330-800 in flight. The US claims Airbus is being unfairly subsidised in comparison to Seattle plane-maker, Boeing, and has imposed tariffs on other goods in retaliation. Photo: S. Ramadier / Aibus.
An Airbus A330-800 in flight. The US claims Airbus is being unfairly subsidised in comparison to Seattle plane-maker, Boeing, and has imposed tariffs on other goods in retaliation. Photo: S. Ramadier / Aibus.

The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation (SSPO) has expressed relief that the industry has avoided being dragged into a dispute between the United States and the European Union over subsidies to aircraft maker Airbus.

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US officials warned in December that it was considering adding Scottish salmon fillets to a list of European goods on which it imposes import tariffs.

In an announcement on Friday evening, the US said a tariff on Airbus and aeroplane parts will go up from 10% to 15% next month.

Other tariffs on a range of goods exported to the US, including single malt Scotch whisky, will remain at 25%.

But the US has decided not to add salmon fillets and blended whisky to the tariff list.

Hamish Macdonell: Increase ins sales of salmon fillets.
Hamish Macdonell: Increase ins sales of salmon fillets.

Important market

SSPO strategic engagement director Hamish Macdonell said: “We are relieved that our farmers will be able to continue sending top quality Scottish salmon to the USA without any new barriers in their way.

“As the recently published export statistics show, the USA is a very important market for Scottish salmon with sales in 2019 valued at £179 million. 

“Most of our exports to the USA are fresh, chilled whole salmon but there is an increase in sales of salmon fillets – worth an additional £66 million which would have been hit by tariffs.”

Negotiated settlement

The action by the office of the US Trade Representative is targeted mainly at the countries where Airbus is built - primarily the UK, France, Germany and Spain, reports the BBC.

The legal statement issued on Friday night in Washington said: “The United States remains open to a negotiated settlement that addresses current and future subsidies to Airbus provided by the EU and certain current and former member states.”

It said it had considered putting up the tariff rate as high as 100%, but after receiving 26,000 responses to a consultation begun in mid-December, it decided not to do so.

However, there was a warning in Friday’s statement of further escalation by Washington if there is retaliation against the higher aircraft tariff by the European Union, or to pursue EU claims that there are unfair subsidies paid to Boeing in the US.

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