According to its own information, the United States has reached an agreement with the EU on the long-standing dispute over US special tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on the sidelines of the summit of 20 major economic powers in Rome. US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan has said one of the biggest problems in relations between the transatlantic partners has been resolved.
Under the agreement in principle, the EU will be able to import certain quantities of metals to the United States duty-free, Raimondo explained. In addition, the two sides would stay the ongoing proceedings in this case before the bodies of the World Trade Organization (WTO), she said. When questioned, the European Commission initially did not comment on the announcements.
The agreement marks an important moment in the reestablishment of US trade relations with Europe following the presidency of Donald Trump. The trade dispute was sparked by the then US president in 2018. Trump introduced special tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The EU responded with retaliatory tariffs on American products such as jeans, bourbon whiskey, motorcycles and peanut butter. Trump had justified the special tariffs “out of national security interests”. The EU considered that this was not plausible and assumed that it was to protect the US economy from unwanted competition.
The EU’s retaliatory tariffs on American products should have increased before the end of the year, Raimondo said. This has now been avoided with the agreement. At the same time, it will ensure that no steel or aluminum products can be imported from the EU, some of which originate from China. The United States accuses Beijing of subsidizing domestic industry and creating artificially low prices for unfair competition.
As of June, the EU and the United States suspended punitive tariffs on products such as airplanes, wine and ketchup until 2026. The agreement should make it possible to calmly settle the dispute over state aid in favor of the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing and its European rival Airbus. It had been stepped up by Trump with the introduction of punitive tariffs on imports from the EU. The Union reacted at the time with special levies on imports from the United States.