Biden hails EU-US steel deal as chance to curb ‘dirty’ Chinese imports
President Joe Biden said the United States and the EU were looking for ways to limit imports of “dirty steel” from China after Washington and Brussels put aside their own trade dispute.
In a deal that was quickly criticized by China, the US and the EU agreed to work jointly on a “global deal” to support sustainable steel and aluminum to reduce overcapacity and encourage greener production.
It’s part of a two-year ceasefire agreement for the United States to ease tariffs on European steel and aluminum. In return, the European Commission proposed to EU member states to temporarily drop retaliatory tariffs and suspend lawsuits at the World Trade Organization.
Speaking in Rome, Biden said the arrangement “would uplift American aluminum and steel. . . encourage emission reductions in one of the most carbon intensive sectors of the world economy ”.
The deal “would restrict access to our markets for dirty steel from countries like China and counter countries that have dumped steel in our markets, hammering our workers,” Biden said at a conference. press with Ursula von der Leyen, the chairman of the committee.
Previously, Valdis Dombrovskis, the European trade commissioner, told reporters that the two sides “would invite like-minded economies to join this deal”. It would seek to tackle the long-standing problem of overproduction, which has led to tariff wars as countries shield their industries from cheap imports.
“One of the things we will discuss will be how to restrict market access for non-participants who do not qualify in the market,” he said. ” We are going to do it [in a way that is] compatible with our international obligations and multilateral rules.
Doing it under WTO rules “is a challenge,” admitted an EU official.
Dombrovskis noted that there was already a Global Steel Overcapacity Forum, but added that “due to the time that China has been leading this forum, its effectiveness may be somewhat limited.”
China produces 56% of the world’s steel, mainly through blast furnaces that use iron ore and coking coal. It was one of the few countries to increase production in 2020.
The Chinese embassy in Washington said Beijing strongly opposes the “baseless US accusations.”
“How the United States develops its economic and trade relations with the EU is their own business. But he shouldn’t make a problem with China or even try to form a clique against China, ”the embassy said. “We hope that all parties can seriously take effective measures to contribute to the proper functioning of the world market and the healthy and steady growth of international trade. “
As part of the deal between Washington and Brussels, the US has agreed to allow up to 4.4 million tonnes of steel per year to enter the EU duty-free, in line with levels before that President Donald Trump imposes tariffs under little-used national security legislation. . Imports currently represent half of this level.
The EU threatened to double tariffs on products such as American whiskey in December without a deal.
Dombrovskis said the deal was “not a final destination. . . but a useful stopover on the road ”.
Von der Leyen said the global deal would help climate neutrality and ensure a “level playing field” for the steel and aluminum industries. “Defusing another source of tension in the transatlantic trade partnership will help industries on both sides,” she said.
The EU and the US also ended in June a long-standing dispute over subsidies for aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus.
Additional reporting by Sylvia Pfeifer in London