Afternoon Coffee: EU and US suspend tariffs in Boeing-Airbus dispute; US Senate passes $1.9 trillion Covid relief package; Germany tackles human rights in supply chain law

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The European Union and United States reached an agreement Friday to suspend tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s products, easing a 17-year transatlantic dispute over aid to the world’s biggest aircraft makers, according to Bloomberg.

The fight over aid for Airbus SE and Boeing Co. resulted in duties — authorized by the World Trade Organization — that target a combined $11.5 billion in transatlantic trade and affect a range of industrial, agricultural and consumer goods. In November, the EU hit $4 billion worth of tariffs on American products, just a year after the Trump administration ignored European pleas to refrain from imposing levies on $7.5 billion of imports.

Through the duties, the US targeted European products like French wine or Spanish olives while Europe has hit US-made tractors, nuts and fruits. The move is a “hopeful sign” that a settlement that will permanently remove the duties is close, Myron Brilliant, the executive vice president and head of international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, told Bloomberg.

“We’re finally coming out of the trade war between the US and Europe, which only creates losers,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on his Twitter account. “I’m pleased for our French wine makers. Let’s keep going down the path of cooperation to get to a definitive agreement. In this crisis period, it must be time for reconciliation.”

US Senate passes $1.9 trillion Covid relief package with direct checks and unemployment aid

The United States Senate over the weekend passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, sending it to the House for expected approval in the coming days, according to CNBC.

The legislation includes direct payments of up to $1,400 for most Americans, a $300 boost to weekly jobless benefits into September and an expansion of a child tax credit for one year. It will add new funding into COVID-19 vaccine distribution and testing, rental assistance for households and school reopening costs, CNBC reported.

The House plans to pass the bill Tuesday and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk for approval before unemployment aid programs expire Sunday.

Germany signs law tackling human rights in supply chain

Germany signed a new law (known as lieferkettengesetz in German) last week that imposes fines if supply chain contractors abroad are found to breach human rights or environmental rules, according to the website DW.com.

Companies will now be held responsible for every step of their supply chains: from raw materials to finished products. It places the responsibility on companies to take responsibility for any labor or environmental abuses in global supply chains. Fines will start at several hundred thousand euros and go up 2% of the company’s annual revenues if they exceed $484 million, the article said.

"This law protects workers from exploitation across sprawling supply chains and protects human rights across the world," Germany's Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday, DW.com reported. He added, "In future, it will be clear that 'Made in Germany' also means respect for human rights."

Other countries have laws that urge visibility into supply chains, and procurement technology providers have built up that functionality. Check out Spend Matters' SolutionMap vendor rankings for this category: Supplier Relationship Management and Risk Solution Rankings.

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