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Trade War: Beef With Bananas

The United States, already in a bitter trade fight with the European Union over bananas, said Monday that it was preparing a new list of sanction targets to retaliate against Europe's refusal to allow the sale of American beef treated with growth hormones.

The preliminary target list covers more than $900 million in European imports, primarily farm products. The sanctions, which would effectively double the price of the products in the American market, would go into effect at the latest by early July, administration officials said in making the announcement.

Peter Scher, America's trade negotiator on agricultural matters, told reporters the list covered European agricultural imports to the United States as well as some manufactured goods.

The new target list will be pared after an April 21 public hearing. It will be held to allow U.S. companies to make a case that certain products should be excluded from the final sanctions list because of potential harm to American businesses.

The new target list is in addition to $520 million in European products targeted in the earlier trade fight involving European restrictions on banana shipments by American companies.

In the banana fight, the United States wants to impose 100 percent tariffs on a variety of European luxury items ranging from Scottish cashmere sweaters to fancy French handbags.

The administration put the punitive tariffs in effect earlier this month on a conditional basis while an arbitration panel of the World Trade Organization determines whether the $520 million damage claim by U.S. banana companies is justified.

The American beef industry has said it is losing more than $500 million in sales annually because of Europe's refusal to abide by WTO rulings that there is no scientific justification for Europe's ban on imports of American beef produced with cattle-fattening hormones.

European officials have resisted sales of hormone-treated beef, citing fears about possible long-term health consequences.

The growing trade tensions between the United States and the 15-nation European Union, America's largest trade partner, are coming at a time when the administration is under heavy political pressure because of a skyrocketing American trade deficit.

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER

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