Biden government and EU reach agreement to ease Trump’s tariffs on aluminum and steel

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By Donald Judd

The Biden administration reached an agreement with the European Union on Saturday to ease Trump-era sanctions on aluminum and steel, officials announced, another step in de-escalating tensions with European allies as Biden heads for the G20 summit is in Rome.

“The president has said that one of the primary goals of his presidency is to show that democracies deliver results for their people, especially working people, and the challenges of the 21st climate change and economic threat from unfair competition from China “National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on Saturday. “Today’s agreement with the EU keeps that promise by making progress on both fronts.”

In 2018, Trump announced a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum to prop up the ailing industries and drew sharp censures from US manufacturers of steel and aluminum products who claimed that Tariffs would cost jobs in their factories and increase consumer prices. On Saturday’s call, Sullivan called the tariffs “one of the greatest bilateral irritations in US-EU relations”.

Trade Minister Gina Raimondo also welcomed Saturday’s deal, but admitted it would not completely lift existing tariffs on aluminum and steel.

“We have an agreement with the EU that maintains tariffs at 232 but allows limited amounts of EU steel and aluminum into US territory,” Raimondo told reporters. “We also agreed to work with the EU to use trade instruments to tackle global overcapacity of steel and aluminum to tackle carbon intensity, which is a major milestone in our fight against climate change.”

Saturday’s deal was the result of “arduous” talks in Rome, Raimondo said and is still aimed at preventing China from flooding markets with excess steel while relieving pressure on imports from Europe.

“China has been channeling its cheap steel into the US via Europe and other markets for far too long, which has depressed prices and essentially made it impossible for the US steel and aluminum industry to compete,” said Raimondo. “And of course that harms the industry, harms our workers – so today’s agreement allows us to allow limited amounts of steel to enter the US duty-free while protecting the American steel industry by ensuring that all steel that goes into the US reaches, across Europe, production takes place entirely in Europe. “

A senior administration official rejected the suggestion that easing tariffs on aluminum and steel could cost Biden politically. “This deal is just the first deal that actually benefits US steel companies and their workers,” the official said on Saturday, adding that clean standards for steel would give American manufacturers an advantage. “Our steel companies are the cleanest in the world right now, and they don’t get credit for that. And this deal will turn that kind of low carbon intensity into a source of competitive advantage across all modes of production. “

Raimondo said today’s deal also means the EU will cut retaliatory tariffs on US brands like Harley-Davidson and the Kentucky bourbon industry, which are set to increase in December.

“There are 1.7 million Americans supported by the liquor industry, 5,600 manufacturing workers at Harley-Davidson, and all of their jobs are now safer because of this deal,” she boasted. “This agreement creates a framework by which the US and the EU agree to take carbon intensity into account in future negotiations, it is the first of its kind. And it means that both the US and the EU will use steel and aluminum that are much cleaner, ie less carbon-intensive, than the steel produced in China. “

American manufacturers quickly celebrated the news on Saturday as Harley-Davidson described the deal as “a major correction in trade relations between the US and the EU” and thanked the government for its efforts.

“Today’s news is a great win for Harley-Davidson and our customers, employees and dealers in Europe,” said CEO Jochen Zeitz in a statement. “We are delighted that this is ending a conflict that was not made by us and in which Harley-Davidson had no place.”

Whiskey distillers said they were eager to serve their European customers following the announcement on Saturday.

“With the abolition of these EU tariffs, we are energetic and ready to step up our promotions for American whiskey in the EU in order to reintroduce native American spirits to EU consumers and resume a great track record of American exports,” said the Distilled Spirits Council, which represents American whiskey distillers, told CNN in a statement on Saturday. “The end of this long tariff nightmare is in sight for US distillers grappling with the weight of tariffs and the pandemic.”

“Today’s announcement is in line with President Biden’s vision to resolve past disputes and begin a new chapter in improved transatlantic relations,” US Trade Representative Katherine Tai told reporters. “In addition to the EU, which is abolishing retaliatory tariffs against the US,” the two parties have “also agreed to suspend the WTO disputes against each other in connection with the 232 measures.”

The CNN Wire
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