EU & US to Set Up Task Force to Resolve Steel Trade Barriers
US & EU hope that renewed cooperation between the EU and US on trade and China will increase chances for resolving a three year-old trade dispute over US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. US & EU leaders, following their summit in Brussels, in a joint statement reiterated an end of the year deadline for settling differences on steel and aluminium tariffs. They said "We are determined to work together to resolve tensions arising from the US application of tariffs on imports from the EU under US Section 232, and will work towards allowing trade to recover from its 2020 lows and ending the WTO disputes.”
The European Union and the United States are setting up a working group to address issues surrounding the production and export of steel and aluminium. The aim is to find a solution this year to the punitive taxes imposed by the two powers on each other from 2018.
The conflict dates back to the time when US President Mr Donald Trump was in power. In the spring of 2018, it introduced import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium from almost all countries in the world. The EU retreated with similar measures. Last month, the European Commission suspended plans to impose the sentence until early December.
American Iron and Steel Institute President & CEO Mr Kevin Dempsey said “We welcome the Biden administration’s renewed commitment to ensure the long-term viability of the American steel industry and address the problem of global excess steel capacity. Addressing these challenges will require the implementation of new and effective measures to eliminate government subsidies and other market distorting policies in many countries that have contributed to the on going global steel overcapacity crisis. Recognizing that these changes in government policies around the world, including in the EU, will take time and will not be easy to achieve, it is essential that the United States maintain strong and effective trade measures to prevent surges in steel imports from around the world that could quickly undermine the U.S. industry and our national security.”
Reduced tariffs on EU steel and aluminium products could have an impact on flows into the US. US imports of steel products from the EU fell by half in 2020 to 2.5 million tonnes from 2017 levels, while total US imports were down at 20 million tonnes in 2020 from 35 million tonnes in 2017.
In addition US & EU agreed to a five year truce in their 17 year dispute over aircraft subsidies to Airbus and Boeing that saw the allies impose tariffs on USD 11.5 billion of each other’s exports. Under the Airbus Boeing deal, all future passenger aircraft will be required to be developed without subsidies. The agreement was driven, in part, by a growing awareness that China’s state sponsored aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, Comac, is on track to become a legitimate rival in global plane making by the end of the decade. The feud dates back to 2004, when the U.S. lodged a legal case at the World Trade Organization against the EU over member-state support to Airbus for commercial aircraft development. A parallel case opened by the bloc argued that Boeing benefited from US subsidies as well as space and military contracts, which defrayed the cost of civilian aircraft development.