© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: US Trade Representative Katherine Tai testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, United States, on May 12, 2021. Susan Walsh / Pool via REUTERS // File Photo
By Andrea Shalal and David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is hopeful it can resolve its trade dispute with the European Union over tariffs on steel and aluminum before the end of October, a source familiar with the discussions said on Wednesday.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai met Tuesday with EU Trade Director Valdis Dombrovskis, who last month told a Washington think tank he was “moderately optimistic” that a an agreement.
“We hope we can reach an agreement before the end of the month,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
Spokespersons for the USTR and the EU declined to comment on the talks. The US Department of Commerce, which administers “Section 232” tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Tuesday, USTR said Tai and Dombrovskis discussed “ongoing efforts to address global overcapacity in the steel and aluminum sectors and the shared challenges posed by non-market economies.”
Tai and Dombrovskis agreed in May not to escalate the dispute over steel and aluminum tariffs for six months to negotiate a deal in a truce that expires at the end of November.
In June, they brokered a deal that halted a 17-year trade battle over aircraft subsidies with a similar argument: The biggest threat facing both Europe and the United States comes from China’s efforts to develop its own commercial aircraft industry.
In the metals dispute, US and European officials have long agreed that Chinese overproduction has weakened world prices.
Former US President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, including imports from the EU, on national security grounds under a Cold War-era trade law.
A source from the steel industry said Tai and the EU were closing in on a possible deal that would replace Section 232 tariffs with a Tariff Quota Agreement (TRQ) that would allow duty-free entry of a specific volume of steel. of the EU, with tariffs. applied at higher volumes.
This person said the talks “are going well” but was reluctant to say that an agreement would be reached before October. 31
Dombrovskis has expressed his opening to a quota agreement similar to those Canada and Mexico have with the United States, but said an agreement is needed in early November.
Other EU officials have told Reuters that much depends on the volume of steel allowed in US ports duty free.
The industry source said EU negotiators were seeking to base the quota on US import volumes prior to the imposition of the 232 tariffs in 2018, while US negotiators want to base quotas. in lower volumes after the tariffs were imposed.
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