EU, US can resolve metals tariff dispute by year-end

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and the European Union could settle a dispute over U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum by the end of the year, Germany’s Economy Minister said on Thursday Peter Altmaier, following a meeting with senior US trade official Katherine Tai.

Altmaier said he invited Tai to come to Berlin to continue the dialogue, and that she agreed. No date had been set, but he suggested it could happen in conjunction with a meeting of Group of Seven ministers in London in October, which both planned to attend.

The German official said trade ties were bolstered by a five-year truce reached at the US-EU summit last week over the long-running dispute over aircraft subsidies, as well as their commitment to work towards resolving the issue. metal problem.

“In the steel and aluminum sector, I think a solution can be found by the end of the year,” he said.

“It’s ambitious, but I think we have a great interest in seeing it done before an endless succession of elections that we will have in the European Union next year,” he said, adding that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit in July could help lay the groundwork for a settlement later this year.

“We agreed that we have a window of opportunity here that we should use,” he said.

Last month, the European Commission suspended for up to six months a threat to double retaliatory tariffs on June 1 on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, American whiskey and motorboats, a goodwill gesture aimed at pushing the administration to suspend tariffs imposed under former President Donald Trump.

Both sides agree they must tackle excess global steel capacity largely centered in China. Washington may find it difficult to remove tariffs on metals, which are supported by many U.S. metal producers and workers.

Altmaier said shared concerns over overcapacity and a common interest in moving towards more environmentally friendly steel production could facilitate a deal.

Tai’s office said she had stressed the need for collaboration with Germany and the EU to address “shared concerns about China’s non-market practices, including forced labor and excess capacity.” .

Altmaier said he and Tai also discussed a proposed waiver of intellectual property rights being discussed at the World Trade Organization in response to the pandemic, but stressed that Germany does not view this as the only possible solution.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)

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