The European Commission warned today (16 January) of a serious escalation of its trade dispute with the US over the EU's ban on beef treated with growth hormones.

Many European food exports are potentially facing punitive tariffs, Brussels warned.

The European Commission has started a World Trade Organisation challenge to a US government decision to activate its 'carousel' trade sanctions law, prompting biannual reviews of retaliatory duties already erected with permission from the WTO, which has ruled against the beef ban in the past.

The French government has already reported a tripling of US tariffs on Roquefort cheese, but more food exports could now be targeted.

"Exporters will face increased uncertainty," said the Commission.