EU tariffs on boats imported from the US – An update

18th June, 2018

The EU will impose tariffs on a range of US imports including marine products in retaliation over Donald Trump’s decision to put duties on European aluminium and steel. These tariff increases (up to 25%) are expected to come into force on 1 July 2018.

The EU is finalising the list it will submit to the World Trade Organization (WTO) but the bloc aims to introduce “rebalancing” tariffs on about €2.8bn (£2.5bn) worth of US steel as well as industrial and agricultural products

From a Marine perspective, these counter measures include pleasure craft, specifically (this is based on a list published by the EU in March):

89039110 – Sea-going sailboats and yachts, with or without auxiliary motor, for pleasure or sports
89039190 – Sailboats and yachts, with or without auxiliary motor, for pleasure or sports (excl. seagoing vessels)
89039210 – Sea-going motor boats and motor yachts, for pleasure or sports (other than outboard motor boats)
89039291 – Motor boats for pleasure or sports, of a length <=7,5 m (other than outboard motor boats)
89039299 – Motor boats for pleasure or sports, of a length >7,5 m (other than outboard motor boats and excl. seagoing motor boats)
89039910 – Vessels for pleasure or sports, rowing boats and canoes, of a weight <=100 kg each
89039991 – Vessels for pleasure or sports, rowing boats and canoes, of a weight >100 kg, of a length <=7,5 m
89039999 – Vessels for pleasure or sports, rowing boats and canoes, of a weight >100 kg, of a length >7,5 m

(The latter three commodity codes exclude motor boats and motor yachts powered other than by outboard motors, sailboats and yachts with or without auxiliary motor and inflatable boats)

British Marine has been working with the UK Departments for Business and International Trade to try and obtain some form of exemption for marine products from the EU’s retaliatory list, but these efforts have proved unsuccessful. This week representatives from British Marine will be meeting with Ministers to discuss the membership’s concerns.

The key questions which British Marine is asking are:

  • What Government support is available to UK companies affected by the EU’s counter measures?
  • When will the list of counter measures be confirmed by the EU?
  • Confirmation of when the tariff increases take affect from?
  • How long are these tariff measures expected to last?
  • How will goods that are already in transit from the US, but are not due into the UK until after 1 July, be affected?
    • British Marine understands that goods already in transit before the implementation date will be not be subject to the increased rate, however it remains unclear how this will be handled. British Marine is seeking an urgent position on this, with a system in place that puts as little burden on trade as possible

The information British Marine has received so far from the UK Government is that the EU Commission has not formally announced the counter measures, but that is expected either later this week or next week. However, it is unlikely that any changes will be made to the draft list as it currently stands, which means that marine products will remain and be subject to increased tariffs. The counter measures are expected to last indefinitely, until and unless something happens to change the situation. British Marine is waiting on a response from the Department of International Trade (DIT) on whether the counter measures will apply to goods already dispatched before 1 July 2018.

British Marine is working closely with a host of national and international partners, including ICOMIA (the International Council of Marine Industry Associations) and the NMMA (the US marine industry trade body) to try and bring about a successful end to this situation. Activities being undertaken include letters being sent direct to President Trump and the EU Commission, highlighting the exceptionally damaging impact these tariff increases will have on the UK, EU and US marine industries. In particular, British Marine is very concerned about the potential impact on micro and small businesses in the UK marine industry – some 83% of marine businesses in the UK are micro and small in size.

British Marine is asking members who import any of the above-mentioned products from the US to come forward. Specifically, British Marine needs to know how many UK companies are significantly reliant on US imported pleasure vessels, the US brands being imported and how many employees those member companies have.

British Marine members should send this information to Andrew Harries at aharries@britishmarine.co.uk. Members with any questions may also contact Andrew. British Marine will publish updates whenever they become available and British Marine members are advised to keep an eye on the British Marine website for further information.

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