U.S. and Europe to Begin Talks on Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

Many of the European tariffs were directed against the constituencies of powerful Republicans. The duty for whiskey fell on the bourbon makers in Kentucky, home of Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate minority. The planned increases would have raised the whiskey tariff to 50 percent and displaced many small producers from the European market, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, an industry group.

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May 17, 2021, 12:48 p.m. ET

“Distilleries in the United States breathe a sigh of relief,” said Chris Swonger, president of the council, in a statement. “We greatly appreciate the Biden government’s continued efforts to resolve these longstanding trade disputes and alleviate the economic pain these unjustly trapped industries are feeling.”

The association representing US steelmakers was more cautious, stressing that talks should focus on the issue of subsidies, which encourage companies to produce more steel than the market can absorb, which is depressing prices.

“While China is the largest source of global steel oversupply, subsidies and other market distorting measures are contributing to the overcapacity crisis in many countries,” said Kevin Dempsey, president of the American Iron and Steel Institute, in a statement. “In every region of the world there are harmful surge imports.”

The announcement on Monday was the latest sign of a gradual improvement in trade relations since Mr Biden took office and precedes a planned visit by the President to Europe in June.

In March, the United States and the European Union temporarily suspended tariffs on billions of dollars on each other’s aircraft, wine, food and other products to resolve a longstanding dispute between Boeing and Airbus, the two leading aircraft manufacturers. The United States also temporarily suspended retaliatory tariffs on British products such as scotch whiskey imposed as part of the aircraft subsidy dispute.

Sales representatives will discuss how to address a global glut of supply that “poses a serious threat to the EU and US market-driven steel and aluminum industries and workers in those industries,” Katherine Tai, US trade representative; Gina M. Raimondo, the Minister of Commerce; and Mr Dombrovskis said in a joint statement on Monday.

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