EU, U.S. Divided on Steel-Duties Solution as Deadline Nears
(Bloomberg) -- The European Union and U.S. are still divided over their dispute regarding Trump-era metals tariffs and is waiting for Washington to provide more details on proposed quotas as a deadline to reach an agreement nears.
The sides discussed it Tuesday and are keen to find a solution, EU officials told reporters on the sidelines of the inaugural U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council meeting in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, declining to be identified because of the bloc’s rules.
Former President Donald Trump instituted the so-called section 232 tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from other nations in 2018, labeling competition on the metals from the EU a national security threat in the company of China. Brussels retaliated by targeting 2.8 billion euros ($3.3 billion) of American imports with duties on some big-brand products, including Harley-Davidson Inc. motorcycles, Levi Strauss & Co. jeans and bourbon whiskey.
The tariffs didn’t form part of Wednesday’s discussions, but the talks on the issue aren’t taking place in a vacuum, the officials said.
EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said Tuesday that an agreement will already be needed by the start of November in order to allow for it to move through internal decision-making procedures in time for Dec. 1 deadline. “Time is, in a sense, running out,” he said on Bloomberg Television.
He met with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Tuesday.
Speaking at the Economic Club of Washington Tuesday, Raimondo said resolving the tariff dispute is among her top priorities, and that the duties “have created tremendous tension” with the EU.
“President Trump and the last administration didn’t treat our allies well. I have to make up for that, you have to smooth that over to regain some trust,” Raimondo said.
Earlier in September, the U.S. submitted an initial offer to the EU that involves a tariff-rate-quota system, according to a person familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.
Tariff-rate quotas allow countries to export specified quantities of a product to other nations at lower duty rates, but subjects shipments above a pre-determined threshold to a higher duty.
The EU is awaiting more information on the quotas, the officials said Wednesday.
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