US, EU agree to lift punitive tariffs

The United States and the European Union agreed on Saturday to lift tariffs on imported steel and aluminium, ending a dispute that strained their trade ties since former president Donald Trump imposed the levies three years ago.

The deal was announced by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who said it “allows limited volumes of EU steel and aluminium to enter the US tariff-free”.

EU retaliatory measures on products like Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Levi’s blue jeans and bourbon – due to take effect on December 1 – will not now be applied, Raimondo said from Rome where she was attending the G20 summit.

EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said in a tweet: “We have agreed with US to pause our steel and aluminium … trade dispute and launch cooperation on a Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminium.”

Trump in June 2018 imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium from several economies, including the European Union. He said he was acting on national security grounds.

The Europeans hit back quickly, planning tariffs on tobacco, corn, rice and orange juice from the US, besides motorcycles and bourbon.

In June, as they announced a deal to end their dispute on subsidies to Airbus and Boeing, the US and the European Union gave themselves until December 1 to resolve the steel tariff issue.

“These industries were facing retaliatory tariffs of 50 percent,” Raimondo said of the likes of Harley Davidson. “No business can survive that. There are 1.7 million Americans supported by the distilled spirits industry. There are 5,600 manufacturing workers at Harley Davidson and all of their jobs are safer today because of this deal.”

The accord announced on the first day of the G20 summit in Rome does not specify the volume of European steel and aluminium that will be allowed in the United States duty-free. (AFP)