Blair buys time in EU trade row with US

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair helped to win Europe a reprieve from American tariffs on luxury goods, including Scottish cashmere, by lobbying President Bill Clinton.

Tony Blair helped to win Europe a reprieve from American tariffs on luxury goods, including Scottish cashmere, by lobbying President Bill Clinton.

US plans to step up the trade war over Europe's banana import regime were put on hold after Mr Blair's intervention at a meeting with Mr Clinton in New York last week.

Europe had been braced for a new list of goods to be hit butthe announcement never came. However, whether Mr Blair's move would lead to anything more than a respite was unclear yesterday, given the differences between the two sides.

Last year the World Trade Organisation authorised America to impose sanctions against the EU after ruling illegal Europe's banana import regime, which favours former colonies. Washington says US companies operating in Latin America lose out as a result.

In a separate dispute over tax breaks, the WTO ruled in favour of the EU. America has until 1 October to reform its so-called foreign sales corporations, under which American companies avoid some $4bn (£2.9bn) in annual taxes by using offshore shell companies.

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