Jeff Duncan.jpg

U.S. REP. JEFF DUNCAN 

U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan has been mixed in his support for President Trump-led trade sanctions with global partners.

But earlier this month, he added his voice to those calling for $11 billion worth of retaliatory sanctions against the European Union after the World Trade Organization found that it offered subsidies to Netherlands-based Airbus that prevented Boeing from fairly competing for work.

Duncan, R-3rd District, was among a trio of congressional witnesses who testified during a two-day public hearing at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

“I want to be clear – I am not an advocate for the use of tariffs as a long-term economic policy. I am a supporter of free and fair trade, and this case exemplifies how that is simply not the case in every market. I believe tariffs are sometimes necessary to help ensure our trading partners play by the rules. On the international stage, American companies, like Boeing, are being taken advantage of for playing by the rules,” Duncan said.

“These retaliatory tariffs are being enacted to ensure rule-based trade governs our global economy and protects U.S. jobs and business. The end goal here is not tariffs; the system is designed so that the threat of imminent tariffs will encourage the EU to finally live up to its legal obligations.”

The WTO is expected to deliver its findings over the summer in what has been the largest case in its history. The dispute stretches back to 2004, when the United States originally brought a challenge to the WTO over the subsidies.

In 2011, the WTO found the EU offered $18 billion in subsidized financing to Airbus between 1968 and 2006, contributing to a loss in Boeing’s global market share.

Duncan counts several aerospace suppliers in his district, and the sector is responsible for 20,241 across the state – including nearly 6,500 Boeing workers.

“I feel it is our duty to protect these hard-working American jobs against the unfair practices of overseas governments that have blatantly and illegally sought to disadvantage American workers and companies,” Duncan said.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in unveiling the $11 billion tariffs package that the figure reflects the estimated financial impact the EU’s subsidies have had on Boeing.

“This case has been in litigation for 14 years, and the time has come for action. The administration is preparing to respond immediately when the WTO issues its finding on the value of U.S. countermeasures,” Lighthizer said. ““Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft. When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional U.S. duties imposed in response can be lifted.”

Duncan said the economic sanctions will have a chilling effect on future efforts to skirt fair trade policies.

“The future of the aerospace industry depends on rule-based trade in which all actors abide by the rule of law. Continuing to provide illegal subsides sends the wrong message to global competitors, that if they choose not to play by the rules they will not be held accountable,” he said.

Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.