USTR Tai optimistic on EU tariff dispute, seeks steel alliance


US Trade Representative Katherine Tai addresses the Geneva Graduate Institute on the role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the global economy and US political priorities ahead of the 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, October 14, 2021. REUTERS / Denis Balibouse / Files

BRUSSELS, Oct.21 (Reuters) – US trade negotiator Katherine Tai said on Thursday she was optimistic about resolving a dispute with the European Union over steel and aluminum tariffs, insisting the fact that joint transatlantic efforts were needed to tackle overcapacity in the world market.

Former US President Donald Trump imposed tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum from the European Union, as well as other economies such as China, India , Russia and Switzerland.

The European Commission, which oversees the EU’s trade policy, has agreed to suspend a planned increase in retaliatory rights until December 1 and to launch formal talks on the management of excess global capacity largely centered on China.

“The conversations are intense,” US Trade Representative Tai said on Thursday after talks with European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis. “Let’s say I’m an optimist.”

Tai also met with senior officials from the European Steel Association, or EUROFER, on Thursday and said the industry group could play an important role in helping negotiate a deal.

“Ambassador Tai stressed the need for rapid progress to achieve consensus in order to preserve our critical industries and achieve the economic and environmental goals shared by the United States and the European Union,” USTR said. in a statement following the talks.

She told the group that the US proposal would ensure the long-term viability of the US and European steel and aluminum industries, while strengthening transatlantic relations.

A U.S. steel industry source told Reuters last week that a likely deal would replace Section 232 tariffs with an agreement allowing duty-free entry of a specified quota of steel from the U.S. EU, with tariffs applied to higher volumes. The two parties differ on the level of quota setting. Read more

However, Tai said the negotiations were not that one-dimensional.

“I don’t want you to think that this is essentially an exercise in a Turkish bazaar where we are negotiating the price of the carpet.… This is actually a multi-faceted negotiation,” he said. she declared.

Tai said the United States and the European Union should “join hands” to fight overcapacity.

“If we can take action together, if we can commit to working together, then we can shift that tension between us so that we can be a more powerful force and push back a common challenge,” she said.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; additional reporting by Andrea Shalal in Washington; edited by Diane Craft and Richard Pullin

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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