The European Union will boost its engagement with the US in an effort to reach an agreement to govern steel and aluminum trade by October, and avoid a potential return of tariffs on billions of dollars of transatlantic exports.
(Bloomberg) — The European Union will boost its engagement with the US in an effort to reach an agreement to govern steel and aluminum trade by October, and avoid a potential return of tariffs on billions of dollars of transatlantic exports.
“Currently we are focusing on not missing the deadline,” the EU’s trade chief, Valdis Dombrovskis, said in an interview on the sidelines of a Group of 20 trade meeting in Jaipur, India. “We are trying to concentrate and reach an agreement on global capacity and sustainability of steel and aluminum production — and I can say there is still work to be done.”
Dombrovskis was expected to meet with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Thursday for bilateral trade talks, where the issue would be raised.
The so-called Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminum seeks to put to rest a 2018 trade conflict that started when former-President Donald Trump slapped tariffs on metals exports from Europe. Two years ago, both sides agreed to pause their punitive measures in an effort to find a permanent solution.
If the Oct. 31 deadline is not met, the tariffs on more than $10 billion of exports would automatically return.
“We are very intensively engaging both at the political and technical level and we see this as one of the deliverables for the EU-US summit,” Dombrovskis said.
Dombrovskis, who will meet with Indian Trade Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday, also said negotiations are ongoing with India on a free-trade accord. The talks were launched in 2007 but suspended in 2013 due to lack of progress on issues including lower tariffs for European cars, wine, dairy products, its environment and labor standards among others.
The discussions between the two were relaunched last year after remaining suspended since 2013. “We are willing to work very intensively to conclude it in a reasonable time frame but we are clear that it is substance over time,” Dombrovskis said.
On the labor and environment sectors, Dombrovskis said while the EU would want clear commitments on trade and sustainable development, environment and labor standards, it is “very clear” that “it’s not one size fits all and that we need to calibrate these commitments in a context of each partner.”
The EU is also negotiating an investment protection treaty with India and has proposed setting up a dedicated investment court system as a part of the deal. The issue has been a contentious one so far as India prefers using local judicial remedies before initiating international arbitration.
–With assistance from Alberto Nardelli.
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