EU Wants Tariff Battle With US To End As Biden Scheduled In Brussels Next Week

The European Union and the United States are seeking to mend the transatlantic relationship that was impeded by tit for tat tariffs surrounding the granting of government subsidy for Airbus and Boeing respectively. According to reports, the EU is now asking the US to pledge an end to their aircraft-related tariffs when representatives of the two sides meet next week.

Officials of the EU are also hopeful that the US President Joe Biden will pledge to end the import duties imposed by the US on steel and aluminium prior to the end of the year. Biden is scheduled to attend a summit in Brussels early next week.

The joint statement that the leaders will look to greenlight will be prepared by the European Council which is also the institution that is hosting the summit.

There is pressure from the EU to “push” the United States to agree to take measures to ease the trade tariffs that emerged during the Donald Trump presidency, said reports quoting an unnamed EU official.

However the reports also said that no clear signals about the US agreeing to the wishes of the EU were yet available.

No comments from the US administration were also available.

During the previous US administration under President Donald Trump, the relationship between the EU and the US had hit rock bottom as Trump had often criticized Europe for being worse than China with respect to its trade practices.

Following the World Trade Organization ruling that the EU had given unfair subsidies to Airbus, tariffs worth $7.5 billion on European products had been imposed by the Trump administration. In retaliation and based on another WTO ruling that the US had also granted illegal aid to Boeing, import duties worth $4 billion on US products was imposed by the EU shortly afterwards. The dispute first emerged in 2004.

The summit will have a lot of emphasis on ‘this relationship can still work’.

In events separate to the WTO ruling, a 25 per cent tariff on European steel and a 10 per cent duty on European aluminium was imposed by the Trump administration ostensibly over national security concerns which was vehemently opposed and retaliated against by the EU.

A first round of tariffs worth 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) was implemented by the EU and another round worth 3.6 billion euros was due to kick in this month. However, in a sign of good faith to boost negotiations, the imposition of the metal-related duties had been put on hold by the EU.

“The engagement has a lot of symbolic value,” Niclas Frederic Poitiers, a research fellow at the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel, had said to a television channel last week. “The summit will have a lot of emphasis on ‘this relationship can still work’,” he had added.

“There is little doubt that President Biden is committed to working with America’s partners in Europe but not at any price,” Leslie Vinjamuri, director of the U.S. and Americas programme at Chatham House, told the media.

“President Biden has a very clear bottom line and that bottom line is that these policies have to work for Americans. It’s also pretty clear that any common policies have to fit with the political climate at home, and especially when it comes to trade, technology and China,” she added.

(Adapted from CNBC.com)

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