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Brussels delivered a sharp message on Wednesday that US President Joe Biden should “hold the talk” at a summit next week and take concrete action to end the tariffs that have poisoned Donald Trump’s transatlantic relations.
A summit in Brussels on June 15 between Biden and senior EU officials has been cited as the best opportunity to restore EU-US relations, but European Commission’s commercial chief Valdis Dombrovskis is still reluctant to see Biden several Maintaining measures imposed by Trump sparked a transatlantic trade war.
Europe’s biggest bugbear is centered around so-called Section 232 measures, in which Trump led national security to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. Brussels considered such measures to be unjustified. The EU is also in a long-standing dispute with the US over subsidies for their respective aircraft construction champions, Airbus and Boeing.
“We want to make decisive progress in resolving our bilateral disputes over aircraft and the US Section 232 measures on steel and aluminum,” said Dombrovskis to members of the European Parliament on Wednesday. “On the latter, we have given the US a clear signal of our willingness to resolve this issue in a fair and equitable manner by suspending the automatic duplication of our legitimate countermeasures. It is now up to the US to take the floor.”
Since Biden’s election, the EU has been pushing for a long-term relaxation with the USA. Dombrovskis told MPs that he hoped the summit “can deliver a positive trade agenda” and stressed that de-escalating and resolving the trade disputes between the EU and the US was “a confidence and confidence building measure”.
Brussels extended an olive branch in mid-May by not escalating retaliatory tariffs on US steel and aluminum tariffs. Instead, both sides agreed to start talks “to address global overcapacities in steel and aluminum”. Brussels and Washington had already agreed in March to suspend the retaliatory tariffs in the longstanding Airbus-Boeing dispute in order to find a permanent solution.
But the clock is ticking. The tariff suspension on imports of US goods can only be granted for a maximum period of six months, while the EU and the US had agreed to suspend retaliatory tariffs on aircraft for four months.
Technical negotiations ahead of the EU-US summit next week have not yet resulted in permanent solutions, said EU diplomats. The heads of state or government will, however, continue to undertake to resolve the disputes before these deadlines, according to the draft conclusions of the summit, which POLITICO has consulted.
“We undertake to make every effort to find comprehensive and lasting solutions to our trade disputes and to avoid further retaliatory measures that weigh on transatlantic trade,” the draft conclusion reads.
More specifically, the heads of state and government undertake to find solutions to the aircraft dispute before the July 11 deadline and to work towards “lifting all additional / punitive tariffs on both sides in connection with our steel and aluminum dispute by December 1, 2021 “.
Brussels and Washington also want to work together to reduce overcapacity in steel and aluminum “to ensure the long-term viability of our steel and aluminum industries”.