BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is working on measures to compensate sectors hit by tariffs imposed by the United States over illegal EU subsidies to the aircraft industry, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Friday.
The United States began slapping tariffs on EU imports worth an annual $7.5 billion on Friday, such as British whisky, French wine, Spanish olives and cheese from across the bloc, including Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano.
"These duties are hurting us. There will be pain," Conte told a news conference in Brussels.
"We are working within the European Union for compensatory measures to limit damages for those directly hit" by the new sanctions, Conte told reporters after an EU summit.
The European Commission has said it will monitor the impact of the new U.S. measures. It is likely to propose a storage scheme for olive oil and olives and help product promotion with a view to finding new markets.
The World Trade Organization has found that both Airbus and its U.S. rival Boeing received billions of dollars of illegal subsidies in a pair of cases that have run for 15 years.
After an award from a WTO adjudicator, the United States put in place tariffs on Friday, focused on the Airbus-producing countries Britain, France, Germany and Spain.
EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan said on Monday that of the 4.3 billion euros ($4.8 billion) of EU food exports hit by the U.S. move, almost 97% were from those countries, along with Italy and Ireland.
Spirits, wines, dairy produce and olive oil account for 92% of the total exposed exports, all hit with tariffs of 25%.
Many exporters sent larger volumes of their goods to the United States than normal ahead of Friday's imposition of tariffs.
The Commission has said that it regrets Washington's move and that it would have no alternative but to impose its own tariffs when a decision on compensation in the related Boeing case comes early next year.
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(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio and Philip Blenkinsp; @fraguarascio, @reutersPhilB; Editing by Mark Heinrich)