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EU trade chief says time running out to fix US steel spat
Trade row

EU trade chief says time running out to fix US steel spat

28.09.2021
Failure to reach agreement within the next month will mean new EU tariffs hitting US products, warns commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis
EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis has said a deal will need to be reached by the beginning of November if new tariffs are to be avoided
EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis has said a deal will need to be reached by the beginning of November if new tariffs are to be avoided
Photo credit: AFP

The European Union’s trade chief has warned that only about a month remains to resolve a metals dispute with the US, and failure to do so means new EU tariffs will hit American products on December 1.

“Allowing for internal decision-making procedures in the EU, we really need an agreement already by the beginning of November,” EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said on Tuesday on Bloomberg TV. “We are now working very intensively to resolve this Trump-era steel and aluminium dispute,” Dombrovskis said. “Time is, in a sense, running out.”

Dombrovskis is meeting with US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to discuss the conflict that started in 2018 when the Trump administration imposed tariffs steel and aluminium from the bloc. Late on Tuesday, Dombrovskis told reporters that the EU is open to looking at steel and aluminium separately, but that both metals need to be resolved in the same timeline. 

Washington instituted a 25% duty on steel imports along with a 10% tariff on inbound aluminium shipments using an arcane national-security provision in a 1962 trade law.

The EU retaliated against the US steel and aluminium measures by targeting €2.8 billion of American imports with tariffs on a range of big-brand products, including Harley-Davidson Inc. motorcycles, Levi Strauss & Co. jeans and bourbon whiskey.

Hard-hit by the retaliatory duties, the US alcohol industry sent a letter on Tuesday to Raimondo and Tai urging the Biden administration to secure the immediate suspension of the tariffs. 

The application of the duties “is having a devastating impact for U.S. exporters,” said the Toasts Not Tariffs coalition, a group of 50 associations representing the entire three-tier chain of the industry. 

It noted that US whiskey exports to the EU have fallen 37% since the tariffs started in 2018, and by 53% to the United Kingdom. It also asked the administration to ensure the UK does not impose additional tariffs on US wine.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.


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