The U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, met a group of U.S. boating industry companies on opening day of Metstrade. The roundtable discussion was almost exclusively devoted to the negative impact EU tariffs have caused U.S. boatbuilders. Hoekstra is a former U.S. congressman from Michigan, whose district included S2 Yachts and Four Winns.
Tariff duties of 25 percent continue to be levied by the European Union on new U.S. boats imported to Europe. Many U.S. builders have said that the tariffs have all but stopped their exports.
“President Trump was the first president to ever hold their feet to the fire for freer trade,” Hoekstra told Trade Only Today, when asked about the EU tariffs. “The goal is to create more equity for us. Trump has at least put the issue on the radar screen.”
Hoekstra did not predict any change in the EU tariff situation in the short-term, and possibly not until after the next presidential election. “We could resolve this now, but we need to work out a fair deal first.”
Industry officials felt that Hoekstra had a better grasp on how EU tariffs are impacting U.S. boat experts after meeting with NMMA staff and companies. “He recognized the inequity of the tariffs and was not against putting pressure on both governments to address the issue,” Nicole Vasilaros, NMMA Senior Vice President of Government and Legal Affairs, told Trade Only Today. “At the end of the day, we emphasized that we don’t like tariffs in any form. We want to get back to free trade.”
Hoekstra later toured the U.S. Pavilion, meeting with U.S. equipment suppliers.