US will raise import tariffs on EU aircraft in March – FreightWaves

In response to a recent World Trade Organization (WTO) decision that allowed the U.S. to impose retaliatory import tariffs on $7.5 billion of EU goods, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will raise the duty on imported EU aircraft from 10% to 15%, effective March 18.

The WTO first authorized the U.S. tariffs in an Oct. 2 decision involving a dispute over subsidies that various European countries provide to commercial aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The U.S. responded on Oct. 18 by implementing tariffs across a range of EU products, including alcoholic beverages, cheeses and kitchen cutlery. The tariffs range from 10% to 25%, depending on the product.

“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,” USTR said in a Federal Register notice expected to be published this week.

Airbus (OTCMKTS: EADSY) said in a statement on Saturday that it “deeply regrets USTR’s decision to raise tariffs on aircraft imported from the EU,” adding the action “further escalates trade tensions between the US and the EU, thereby creating more instability for U.S. airlines that are already suffering from a shortage of aircraft.”

Airbus warned that the EU is expected to receive authorization from the WTO to impose tariffs against imports of Boeing planes, such as the 737Max, 787 and 777 series, in May or June, further escalating the U.S.-EU trade war. Boeing (NYSE: BA) is struggling to recover from widespread safety issues involving its new 737Max aircraft.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) urged the U.S. and EU to “de-escalate this trade dispute by simultaneously removing the U.S. tariffs on EU beverage alcohol products and the EU’s tariff on American whiskey.”

The U.S. imposed a 25% tariff on various European whiskeys on Oct. 18. However, since June 22, 2018, the EU has had a 25% retaliatory tariff on imports of American whiskey in response to U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel. The EU is scheduled to increase its tariff on American whiskey imports to 50% in spring 2021.

“It has become abundantly clear that tariffs on distilled spirits products are causing rough seas on both sides of the Atlantic,” the council said.

Trade tariffs slow pour of American whiskey exports – FreightWaves

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) warned on Wednesday during its annual economic briefing in New York that a decade of expanding American whiskey exports is about to be bottled up by an ongoing U.S. trade war with the European Union.

“The data is clear. These tariffs are chipping away at American whiskey’s brand equity in our top export markets,” said Council President and CEO Chris Swonger.

The EU has been a longtime growing market for American whiskeys, but exports during the past two years have fallen due to the implementation of EU retaliatory import tariffs.

According to DISCUS, American distillers have so far made up for the loss in exports through domestic sales, which in 2019 increased 5.3%, or $1.5 billion, for a record of $29 billion. This marks the 10th year of domestic market gains for spirits.

“We are now gravely concerned that the U.S. tariffs on EU spirits imports will have the same deleterious effect in the United States,” Swonger said. “If this trade dispute is not resolved soon, we will more than likely be reporting a similar drag on the U.S. spirits sector, jeopardizing American jobs and our record of solid growth in the U.S. market.”

Source: Distilled Spirits Council of the United States

DISCUS highlighted data released this week by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) showing that the impact of the EU’s 25% tariff on American whiskey has caused U.S. exports to this market to drop by 27% last year compared to 2018. Globally, American whiskey exports have decreased 16%, while global spirits exports are down 14.3% over the same period.

Source: Distilled Spirits Council of the United States

Christine LoCascio, the council’s public policy chief, said the recent passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, as well as the Phase One trade deal reached between the U.S. and China and negotiations with Japan, are positive developments for the American whiskey trade.

“We are hopeful that the recent trade agreements will create new momentum for negotiations with the EU that will result in the immediate removal of retaliatory tariffs on American spirits exports and U.S. tariffs on certain EU spirits,” she said.

US Treasury formalizes channel for continued humanitarian aid to Iran – FreightWaves

While the Trump administration continues to ratchet up economic sanctions against Iran, the U.S. continues to supply humanitarian aid to Iranian citizens.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday said it has recently established a new “humanitarian channel” through the Swiss government, which will provide ongoing medical care to Iranian nationals without the Iranian government’s involvement.

“Iranian cancer and transplant patients are receiving treatments through this channel, which is subject to strict due diligence measures to avoid misuse by the Iranian regime,” the Treasury Department said in a statement. “The successful completion of these transactions provides a model for facilitating further humanitarian exports to Iran.”

“The United States is determined to ensure the Iranian people have access to food, life-saving medicines, and other humanitarian goods, despite the regime’s economic mismanagement and wasteful funding of malign activities across the region,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. “Humanitarian transactions are currently allowed under our sanctions programs, and we encourage companies to use this humanitarian mechanism.”

The Treasury Department announced the development of this new humanitarian financing channel on Oct. 25, 2019, citing the Iranian regime’s continued use of humanitarian trade schemes to evade sanctions and fund regional terrorist activities.

“Through this mechanism, no revenue or payment of any kind will be transferred to Iran,” the department said at the time.

The new mechanism through the Swiss government will focus on facilitating commercial U.S. exports of agricultural commodities, food, medicine and medical devices to Iran. However, other foreign governments can join the Treasury program.

“This framework will enable foreign governments and foreign institutions to seek written confirmation from Treasury that the proposed financial channel will not be exposed to U.S. sanctions in exchange for foreign governments and financial institutions committing to provide Treasury robust information on the use of this mechanism on a monthly basis,” the department said.

Since diplomatic relations were severed between the U.S. and Iran in 1979, the Swiss government through its embassy in Tehran has become the “neutral” political interface between the two countries.

Maritime History Notes: Dry cargo on tankers – FreightWaves

The first oceangoing steamer designed and built to carry oil in bulk was the Belgian-flagged Vaderland, which was built in 1872. The intended service of this vessel was to carry immigrants to the U.S. and return to Europe carrying petroleum. Prior to the first voyage, however, the authorities forbade the scheme as being too dangerous. The ship was then converted to a passenger cargo liner and never carried an oil cargo.

The first prototype of the modern tanker was the Gluckauf of 1886. There were, however, numerous sailing ships owned by oil companies at the time. Interestingly, one such sailing tanker remains, the Falls of Clyde, currently laid up in Honolulu.

Until recently, most tankers were fitted with a dry cargo hold, usually located near the forecastle, and included cargo booms for the loading and discharge of cargo. The hold averaged 15,000 cubic feet and was used for the carriage of barrels, cases and drums of lube oil or oil and chemical products.

Tankers have been known to enter the dry trades. In 1944, World War II was raging across the European continent. The agricultural regions were devastated and what little grain remained in the fields could not be harvested with the farmers serving as soldiers. Europe’s cities faced starvation. The Battle of the Atlantic had fully employed all the dry cargo ships.

Due to the urgency in Europe, a bold experiment was undertaken — bulk grain would be loaded into newly built tankers that had never been in the oil trades. It was decided that these vessels were to load at Canadian ports. The experiment became a success. These vessels did get safely across, although not much is known about their voyages.

Gulfcrest was the first tanker to load a cargo of grain. Note the two cargo booms located over the dry cargo hold. [Photo Courtesy: Capt. James McNamara]

Tankers did not enter the grain trade again until 1954, when economics dictated their return. The first vessel in this trade was the 1926-built Gulfcrest, owned by the Gulf Oil Co. This vessel initially had been employed for 27 years in the carriage of crude oil around the Caribbean and U.S. East Coast.

It should be noted that in 1954, the Grain Rules from the 1948 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) were in effect and these rules called for the installation of bins and feeders in all spaces where bulk grain was to be loaded. However, the traditional tanker had holds or tanks that were subdivided by longitudinal and transverse bulkheads that honeycombed the hull into about 30 compartments or individual tanks. Thus, it was rather impractical to attempt to fit these ships with bins and feeders.

The Manhattan, after loading to its maximum draft at Baton Rouge and Galveston, anchored offshore to complete its loading of 105,000 tons of wheat from two World War II-built tankers in 1963. [Photo Courtesy: Capt. James McNamara]

On the other hand, tankships have inherent stability advantages. To accommodate the free surfaces of liquid cargoes, the longitudinal bulkheads were located to greatly reduce the transverse heeling moments. This design, therefore, similarly accommodated the potential shift of the grain, a commodity that, although it could move after stowage, was less fluid than liquid.

Thus, the first grain rules for tankers were issued in 1954 that set forth regulations on the required ship structure, fittings and cleanliness.

It should be noted that not all vessels intended to carry oil met the criteria. Structurally, this required the vessel to be subdivided by two or more suitably placed longitudinal bulkheads and not be fitted with double bottoms.

Over the years, hundreds of tankers were employed in the grain trades. Today, however, there are fewer tankers being built that can meet the criteria of the grain rules and thus fewer tankers are employed in the grain trade.

Construction of a Meccano or spar deck. [Photo Courtesy: Capt. James McNamara]

During World War II there was a great demand for sea transport, and the idea of using the open deck space of a tanker for the transportation of airplanes was developed. The wartime installations were nicknamed “Meccano decks” because they resembled Meccano toys, similar to Erector Sets. The ships, for the most part, were standard T-2 vessels that easily lent themselves to the composition of uniform steel or aluminum beams that when bolted together could be adopted to most standard tanker decks.

U.S. patrol boats in cradles on a spar deck in 1944. [Photo Courtesy: Capt. James McNamara]

After the war, when these tankers were turned over to private operators for civilian use, the Meccano decks were removed to eliminate topside weight, which was of no use to a private operator.

Commentary: This Arctic party needs some good icebreakers – FreightWaves

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates. 

There is this party starting in a very cool place and everyone who showed up is a little uncomfortable. Things are heating up – and not necessarily in a good way. This is the state of affairs in the Circumpolar North and its Arctic waters. Melting polar ice is opening up new navigational opportunities and offering access to previously inaccessible resources under the vast ocean floor. Metaphorically speaking, it is a nice place to hold a party. Yet the question is: who else is likely to show up and will they all get along? Basically, trans-Arctic commercial shipping requires access to icebreakers. 

The eight Arctic nations include Canada, Denmark (via Greenland), Finland, Iceland (via Grimsey Island), Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States (via Alaska). Technically, Finland does not have direct access to the Arctic Ocean but part of it is within the Arctic Circle. All of these nations are members of an intergovernmental organization called the Arctic Council. It was established in 1996 to foster regional cooperation for the socio-economic welfare of the nearly four million people who live in the Arctic. To date there are 13 other nations with observer status, most notably China (2013).

(Photo credit: Flickr/Gennady Alexandrov)

The seven nations facing the Arctic Ocean have control over their domestic waters up to 200 nautical miles (nm) off shore and the resources underneath. Things can get dicey when one nation claims rights beyond 200 nm. Typically, it would have to show that its continental shelf extended beyond its domestic waters. Things also get dicey when issues of access to the Arctic Ocean and its navigable straits arise. Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia view their territorial straits as sovereign. However, the U.S. and the European Union (EU) view them as open to innocent passage because they connect different bodies of international waters. The most contentious example of this is the status of Canada’s Northwest Passage (NWP). The NWP curls around Canada’s sovereign Arctic islands but it connects Baffin Bay off Greenland with the Beaufort Sea off Alaska. As nations look to the Arctic as a new frontier for commercial shipping, resource extraction and tourism, these unresolved issues will become heated.

The U.S-Canada dispute over the NWP started in 1970 but lay dormant for decades. A major oil field was discovered at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in 1967. This was a joint venture by Standard Oil (renamed Exxon in 1973) and Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO). The question was how the oil would be transported to the East Coast. While the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) was the final decision, some consideration at the time was given to transporting it by ocean vessel. The Humble Oil & Refining Company (a subsidiary of Standard Oil) would take up the issue and stake $36 million to finance an oil transport expedition through the NWP. Standard Oil had a lot at stake. Since it dominated East Coast refining, naturally it wanted Alaska’s oil to be transported to its refineries. If the oil were routed to the West Coast. then ARCO would have a larger benefit.

(Photo in public domain)

In 1969, the oil tanker S.S. Manhattan was used to see if the route was feasible. The Sun Shipyard and Dry Dock Company of Chester, Pennsylvania retrofitted the oil tanker with an icebreaking bow, thereby making it the largest icebreaker in the world. If successful, there would be a great deal more traffic in the NWP to move the 25 billion barrels deemed available at the time. The vessel reached Barrow, Alaska on September 21 and delivered a token barrel of oil to New York City on November 12. However, on the trip to Alaska the Manhattan did get stuck in the NWP at M’Clure Strait. An escort icebreaker (U.S. Coast Guard cutter Northwind) was not able to free it, while the Canadian Coast Guard’s John A. Macdonald did the job. Canada supported this trip as well as a second one in 1970 but noted that future support was not guaranteed. At any rate, U.S. interests determined that a pipeline was more economical. Ironically, the U.S. would experience Canada’s concerns over the environmental risk to the NWP when the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound in 1989. Of course, even that part of Alaska is not as harsh and remote as the Arctic.

Things are not all heat regarding the Arctic. In fact, a few prominent ocean container carriers have stated publicly that they will avoid Arctic shipping. The Northern Sea Route (NSR) along Russia from the Bering Strait to the Barents Sea is about 30% shorter than the Asia-Europe route via the Suez Canal. Depending on how much ice is in the region, the saving on transit time can be as much as 10 days off of the standard 35-day voyage via the Suez Canal. Melting polar ice is likely to increase the duration of the navigable season and yet the MSC, CMA-CGM and Hapag-Lloyd shipping lines have expressed concern over the environmental impact of using this route on a regular basis. In addition, Maersk has expressed some doubt. Certainly, as with the NWP, any accident in that part of the world is more costly to deal with when just considering accessibility of clean up vessels and equipment in the midst of spotty communications infrastructure. 

The Suez Canal.
(Photo credit: Flickr/Vyacheslav Argenbergl)

The United States is coming to this geo-political party with conspicuously fewer icebreakers than Russia. Depending on how one counts, Russia has up to 40 of them. In particular, the nuclear-powered Arktika is the world’s most powerful. Canada has 19 in its Coast Guard fleet. Even China has been traversing the Arctic Ocean in search of new resources. It has partnered with Russia on projects off its northern coast and has been assisted by Russian icebreakers. On a commercial basis China’s Cosco has made several voyages since 2013 under icebreaker escort, though mostly to supply Russian outposts.

China has even announced a “Polar Silk Road” initiative. It deployed its second domestically built research vessel/icebreaker, the Xue Long 2 (or Snow Dragon), in early 2019. The first one went into service in 1994. More are on the drawing board. With two, China equals the U.S. in terms of fully operational icebreakers. In the meantime, China’s exploration alliances with Russia and a free trade agreement with Iceland in 2013 mean that its presence in the Arctic is sure to grow.

The USCGC Healy, commissioned in 1999, is only a medium-class icebreaker. The 44-year old USCGC Polar Star is the only remaining heavy-class icebreaker in operation. Its sister vessel, USCGC Polar Sea, has been out of service since 2010. After years of expensive maintenance and upgrades to the existing fleet, the U.S. Coast Guard awarded a $746 million contract to VT Halter Marine to build the first of a series of modern heavy icebreakers. Its arrival in 2024 is projected to be the first of six (depending on future budget realities).

(Photo credit: Flickr/Greenpeace UK)

Icebreakers do not just cut a channel in the ice that stays open for days on end. This is not like cutting a channel  through a snowy mountain to manage run-off. The problem is that the ice is floating. Soon after the channel is cut the giant plates of ice will crash back into each other with a tangle of upended cleaves that make the channel even more difficult to traverse. Also, the steadily melting polar ice means that there are more ice floes around, which adds to unpredictability. The transition from a permanent ice cap to ice-free waters has been underway for decades and it will continue for decades more. Icebreakers need to escort commercial vessels. Do we need enough escorts to handle individual vessels on a come as you go basis or should the vessels be scheduled into convoys?

The United States is an Arctic nation thanks to Alaska. China is playing the long game. Will the U.S. think like the Arctic nation it is? If so, the American people need to think of the Arctic as its own backyard. A Monroe Doctrine for the Circumpolar North is perhaps too strong. But the nation’s elected leaders need to think about how to strengthen alliances with its other neighbors in the region.

There is no shortage of imaginative ideas for the Arctic. The reality is that the region is fragile, unpredictable and has a distinct shortage of support infrastructure along the NWP and NSR. Russia has signaled that it wants to make the NSR commercially viable and is investing in the icebreakers to make this happen. Prominent carriers are prepared to take a pass on the basis of environmental concerns. The debate continues.

Trade tariffs slow pour of American whiskey exports – FreightWaves

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) warned on Wednesday during its annual economic briefing in New York that a decade of expanding American whiskey exports is about to be bottled up by an ongoing U.S. trade war with the European Union.

“The data is clear. These tariffs are chipping away at American whiskey’s brand equity in our top export markets,” said Council President and CEO Chris Swonger.

The EU has been a longtime growing market for American whiskeys, but exports during the past two years have fallen due to the implementation of EU retaliatory import tariffs.

According to DISCUS, American distillers have so far made up for the loss in exports through domestic sales, which in 2019 increased 5.3%, or $1.5 billion, for a record of $29 billion. This marks the 10th year of domestic market gains for spirits.

“We are now gravely concerned that the U.S. tariffs on EU spirits imports will have the same deleterious effect in the United States,” Swonger said. “If this trade dispute is not resolved soon, we will more than likely be reporting a similar drag on the U.S. spirits sector, jeopardizing American jobs and our record of solid growth in the U.S. market.”

Source: Distilled Spirits Council of the United States

DISCUS highlighted data released this week by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) showing that the impact of the EU’s 25% tariff on American whiskey has caused U.S. exports to this market to drop by 27% last year compared to 2018. Globally, American whiskey exports have decreased 16%, while global spirits exports are down 14.3% over the same period.

Source: Distilled Spirits Council of the United States

Christine LoCascio, the council’s public policy chief, said the recent passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, as well as the Phase One trade deal reached between the U.S. and China and negotiations with Japan, are positive developments for the American whiskey trade.

“We are hopeful that the recent trade agreements will create new momentum for negotiations with the EU that will result in the immediate removal of retaliatory tariffs on American spirits exports and U.S. tariffs on certain EU spirits,” she said.

US Treasury formalizes channel for continued humanitarian aid to Iran – FreightWaves

While the Trump administration continues to ratchet up economic sanctions against Iran, the U.S. continues to supply humanitarian aid to Iranian citizens.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday said it has recently established a new “humanitarian channel” through the Swiss government, which will provide ongoing medical care to Iranian nationals without the Iranian government’s involvement.

“Iranian cancer and transplant patients are receiving treatments through this channel, which is subject to strict due diligence measures to avoid misuse by the Iranian regime,” the Treasury Department said in a statement. “The successful completion of these transactions provides a model for facilitating further humanitarian exports to Iran.”

“The United States is determined to ensure the Iranian people have access to food, life-saving medicines, and other humanitarian goods, despite the regime’s economic mismanagement and wasteful funding of malign activities across the region,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. “Humanitarian transactions are currently allowed under our sanctions programs, and we encourage companies to use this humanitarian mechanism.”

The Treasury Department announced the development of this new humanitarian financing channel on Oct. 25, 2019, citing the Iranian regime’s continued use of humanitarian trade schemes to evade sanctions and fund regional terrorist activities.

“Through this mechanism, no revenue or payment of any kind will be transferred to Iran,” the department said at the time.

The new mechanism through the Swiss government will focus on facilitating commercial U.S. exports of agricultural commodities, food, medicine and medical devices to Iran. However, other foreign governments can join the Treasury program.

“This framework will enable foreign governments and foreign institutions to seek written confirmation from Treasury that the proposed financial channel will not be exposed to U.S. sanctions in exchange for foreign governments and financial institutions committing to provide Treasury robust information on the use of this mechanism on a monthly basis,” the department said.

Since diplomatic relations were severed between the U.S. and Iran in 1979, the Swiss government through its embassy in Tehran has become the “neutral” political interface between the two countries.

Maritime History Notes: Dry cargo on tankers – FreightWaves

The first oceangoing steamer designed and built to carry oil in bulk was the Belgian-flagged Vaderland, which was built in 1872. The intended service of this vessel was to carry immigrants to the U.S. and return to Europe carrying petroleum. Prior to the first voyage, however, the authorities forbade the scheme as being too dangerous. The ship was then converted to a passenger cargo liner and never carried an oil cargo.

The first prototype of the modern tanker was the Gluckauf of 1886. There were, however, numerous sailing ships owned by oil companies at the time. Interestingly, one such sailing tanker remains, the Falls of Clyde, currently laid up in Honolulu.

Until recently, most tankers were fitted with a dry cargo hold, usually located near the forecastle, and included cargo booms for the loading and discharge of cargo. The hold averaged 15,000 cubic feet and was used for the carriage of barrels, cases and drums of lube oil or oil and chemical products.

Tankers have been known to enter the dry trades. In 1944, World War II was raging across the European continent. The agricultural regions were devastated and what little grain remained in the fields could not be harvested with the farmers serving as soldiers. Europe’s cities faced starvation. The Battle of the Atlantic had fully employed all the dry cargo ships.

Due to the urgency in Europe, a bold experiment was undertaken — bulk grain would be loaded into newly built tankers that had never been in the oil trades. It was decided that these vessels were to load at Canadian ports. The experiment became a success. These vessels did get safely across, although not much is known about their voyages.

Gulfcrest was the first tanker to load a cargo of grain. Note the two cargo booms located over the dry cargo hold. [Photo Courtesy: Capt. James McNamara]

Tankers did not enter the grain trade again until 1954, when economics dictated their return. The first vessel in this trade was the 1926-built Gulfcrest, owned by the Gulf Oil Co. This vessel initially had been employed for 27 years in the carriage of crude oil around the Caribbean and U.S. East Coast.

It should be noted that in 1954, the Grain Rules from the 1948 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) were in effect and these rules called for the installation of bins and feeders in all spaces where bulk grain was to be loaded. However, the traditional tanker had holds or tanks that were subdivided by longitudinal and transverse bulkheads that honeycombed the hull into about 30 compartments or individual tanks. Thus, it was rather impractical to attempt to fit these ships with bins and feeders.

The Manhattan, after loading to its maximum draft at Baton Rouge and Galveston, anchored offshore to complete its loading of 105,000 tons of wheat from two World War II-built tankers in 1963. [Photo Courtesy: Capt. James McNamara]

On the other hand, tankships have inherent stability advantages. To accommodate the free surfaces of liquid cargoes, the longitudinal bulkheads were located to greatly reduce the transverse heeling moments. This design, therefore, similarly accommodated the potential shift of the grain, a commodity that, although it could move after stowage, was less fluid than liquid.

Thus, the first grain rules for tankers were issued in 1954 that set forth regulations on the required ship structure, fittings and cleanliness.

It should be noted that not all vessels intended to carry oil met the criteria. Structurally, this required the vessel to be subdivided by two or more suitably placed longitudinal bulkheads and not be fitted with double bottoms.

Over the years, hundreds of tankers were employed in the grain trades. Today, however, there are fewer tankers being built that can meet the criteria of the grain rules and thus fewer tankers are employed in the grain trade.

Construction of a Meccano or spar deck. [Photo Courtesy: Capt. James McNamara]

During World War II there was a great demand for sea transport, and the idea of using the open deck space of a tanker for the transportation of airplanes was developed. The wartime installations were nicknamed “Meccano decks” because they resembled Meccano toys, similar to Erector Sets. The ships, for the most part, were standard T-2 vessels that easily lent themselves to the composition of uniform steel or aluminum beams that when bolted together could be adopted to most standard tanker decks.

U.S. patrol boats in cradles on a spar deck in 1944. [Photo Courtesy: Capt. James McNamara]

After the war, when these tankers were turned over to private operators for civilian use, the Meccano decks were removed to eliminate topside weight, which was of no use to a private operator.

US imposes sanctions on Russian railroad operator – FreightWaves

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has announced sanctions against Moscow-based Grand Service Express for operating a passenger rail service between the Russian mainland and Crimean Peninsula.

The agency said on Wednesday it added the Russian railroad, as well as CEO Alexander Ganov, to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List for supporting Russia’s occupation of the Crimean Peninsula.

U.S. persons and companies are generally prohibited from conducting business with individuals or entities on the SDN List. Additionally, any entities owned 50% or more in the aggregate by these listed individuals are blocked.

Grand Service Express began offering service to the Crimea via the Kerch Strait Bridge in late December, a violation of OFAC’s Ukraine/Russia-Related Sanctions program.

The Russian railroad’s action also reinforces the July 25, 2018, Crimea Declaration, which states the U.S. neither recognizes Russia’s annexation of Crimea nor its use of force in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. Russian troops officially entered Crimea and drove out Ukrainian military forces on March 1, 2014.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has increased U.S. economic sanctions against both Russian industries and businessmen under authority of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Besides Grand Service Express and its CEO, OFAC added seven government officials who represent the Russian-controlled Republic of Crimea to the SDN List. They include Yuri Gotsanyuk, prime minister; Mikhail Razvozhaev, acting governor of Sevastopol; Vladimir Nemtsev, legislative assembly chairman; Sergei Danilenko, Sevastopol Election Commission chairman; Lidia Basova, Sevastopol Election Commission deputy chairman; Ekaterina Pyrkova, Sevastopol Election Commission secretary; and Ekaterina Altabaeva, member of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation representing Sevastopol.

The European Union and Canada also added the seven Russian government officials to their respective control lists for their interference in Crimean politics.

“The coordinated U.S., EU, and Canadian designations limit the ability of these illegitimate officials to do business internationally and highlights the strength of the transatlantic alliance in standing up to Russia’s continued aggression,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on Wednesday.

US will raise import tariffs on EU aircraft in March – FreightWaves

In response to a recent World Trade Organization (WTO) decision that allowed the U.S. to impose retaliatory import tariffs on $7.5 billion of EU goods, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will raise the duty on imported EU aircraft from 10% to 15%, effective March 18.

The WTO first authorized the U.S. tariffs in an Oct. 2 decision involving a dispute over subsidies that various European countries provide to commercial aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The U.S. responded on Oct. 18 by implementing tariffs across a range of EU products, including alcoholic beverages, cheeses and kitchen cutlery. The tariffs range from 10% to 25%, depending on the product.

“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,” USTR said in a Federal Register notice expected to be published this week.

Airbus (OTCMKTS: EADSY) said in a statement on Saturday that it “deeply regrets USTR’s decision to raise tariffs on aircraft imported from the EU,” adding the action “further escalates trade tensions between the US and the EU, thereby creating more instability for U.S. airlines that are already suffering from a shortage of aircraft.”

Airbus warned that the EU is expected to receive authorization from the WTO to impose tariffs against imports of Boeing planes, such as the 737Max, 787 and 777 series, in May or June, further escalating the U.S.-EU trade war. Boeing (NYSE: BA) is struggling to recover from widespread safety issues involving its new 737Max aircraft.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) urged the U.S. and EU to “de-escalate this trade dispute by simultaneously removing the U.S. tariffs on EU beverage alcohol products and the EU’s tariff on American whiskey.”

The U.S. imposed a 25% tariff on various European whiskeys on Oct. 18. However, since June 22, 2018, the EU has had a 25% retaliatory tariff on imports of American whiskey in response to U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel. The EU is scheduled to increase its tariff on American whiskey imports to 50% in spring 2021.

“It has become abundantly clear that tariffs on distilled spirits products are causing rough seas on both sides of the Atlantic,” the council said.