Rome, 31 October 2021 (dpa/MIA) – The United States has reached an agreement with the EU in the years-long dispute over special US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, top EU and US trade officials said at the G20 summit.
The deal was announced by US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Saturday on the sidelines of the summit of the 20 major economic powers in Rome.
EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis confirmed that the two sides had agreed “to pause” the dispute. The European Commission did not provide further details.
US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are to present the agreement on Sunday.
The move resolves one of the biggest areas of contention in the relationship between the transatlantic partners, said Biden’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan.
Under the agreement in principle, the EU will be allowed to import certain quantities of the metals duty-free into the US, Raimondo said.
In addition, both parties would suspend pending cases on the matter before World Trade Organization (WTO) bodies, she said.
The trade dispute was instigated in 2018 by then US president Donald Trump. Trump had introduced special tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. The EU responded with retaliatory tariffs on US products such as jeans, bourbon whiskey, motorbikes and peanut butter.
Trump had justified the special tariffs with “national security interests.”
The EU viewed this as implausible and assumed the aim was to protect the US economy from unwanted competition.
The EU’s retaliatory tariffs on US products were supposed to increase before the end of the year, Raimondo explained. This has now been averted with the agreement.
At the same time, she said, it would be ensured that no steel or aluminium products could be imported to the US from the EU that had originated in China.
The US accuses Beijing of subsidizing its domestic industry and creating unfair competition with artificially low prices.
In June, the EU and the US had already suspended punitive tariffs on products such as aeroplanes, wine and ketchup until 2026.
The agreement should make it possible to calmly resolve the dispute over state aid for the US aircraft manufacturer Boeing and its European rival Airbus.
It had been escalated by Trump with the introduction of punitive tariffs on imports from the EU. The EU reacted at the time with special levies on imports from the US.