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U.S. agrees to ease Trump-era tariffs on European Union steel and aluminum

By Jake Thomas
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U.S. agrees to ease Trump-era tariffs on European Union steel and aluminum
Ed Steiner places an i.d. tag onto one many coils of recycled metal being shipped to manufacturers to be made into products such as nails, fences and springs at the Co-Steel mini-mill in Perth Amboy, N.J. The Biden administration announced a deal on Saturday with the European Union to ease tariffs on steel and aluminum. File photo by Monika Graff UPI | License Photo

Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Biden administration officials announced on Saturday that they had reached a deal with their European Union counterparts to lift some Trump-era tariffs on steel and aluminum in exchange for dropping duties on American goods.

The deal was announced as President Joe Biden met with other world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Rome. The U.S. has agreed to allow "limited volumes" of steel and aluminum products from the European Union tariff-free, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told The Washington Post. As part of the deal, the European Union will drop retaliatory tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, bourbon and other U.S. products.

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Administration officials said the agreement will ease the supply chain crunch that's adversely affecting manufacturing and distribution while resolving a ruffle between the U.S. and EU.

Former President Donald Trump imposed a 25% tariff on European steel and 10% tariff on aluminum in 2018 as part of his "America First" protectionist trade policies that irked European allies.

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But the Biden administration has been slow to undo the trade policies of his predecessor because the tariffs have support in the politically vital state of Pennsylvania. The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute said the tariffs created more than 3,000 steelmaking jobs and Raimondo said they kept workers employed, the Post reports.

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Kevin Dempsey, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute, welcomed the agreement in a statement. He said the agreement maintains a tariff-rate quota that will prevent another steel import surge.

"We appreciate the Biden administration's continued recognition that the American steel industry is critical to our national and economic security, as well as its commitment to addressing the global steel overcapacity crisis and to combatting unfair trade practices in the global steel sector," Dempsey said.

RELATED U.S., EU reach truce, agree to negotiate end to Trump-era tariffs on metals

Chris Swonger, president and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council, also welcomed the agreement in a statement. He said that after the EU imposed tariffs, U.S. whiskey exports dropped 37%, from $702 million to $440 million.

"Lifting this tariff burden on American Whiskeys not only boosts U.S. distillers and farmers, it also supports the recovery of EU restaurants, bars and distilleries hit hard by the pandemic," he said, noting that Europe is the largest export market for the U.S. spirits industry.

With the dispute settled, the U.S. and EU have agreed to work on a plan that addresses China's excess production of steel as well as exporters of carbon-intensive steel, reports Politico.

RELATED Fed report: Tariffs contribute to job losses, increased production costs

However, Politico pointed out that EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis described the agreement on Twitter as a "pause" in the dispute.

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