WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and the European Union could settle a dispute over U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs by the end of the year, Germany’s minister of finance said on Thursday. ‘Economics, Peter Altmaier, following a meeting with senior US trade official Katherine Tai.
Altmaier said he invited Tai to go to Berlin to continue the dialogue, and she agreed. No date was set, but he suggested it could take place in conjunction with a meeting of Group of Seven ministers in London in October, which both planned to attend.
The German official said the trade relationship had been bolstered by a five-year truce reached at last week’s US-EU summit over the long-running dispute over aircraft subsidies, as well as their commitment to work towards solving the metal problem.
“In the steel and aluminum sector, I think a solution can be found by the end of the year,” he said.
“It’s ambitious, but I think we have a great interest in getting this done before an endless string of elections that we will have in the European Union next year,” he said, adding that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit in July could help lay the groundwork for a settlement later this year.
“We agreed that we had a window of opportunity here that we should use,” he said.
Last month, the European Commission suspended for up to six months a threat to double, on June 1, retaliatory tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, American whiskey and motorboats, a goodwill gesture aimed at urging the Biden administration to suspend tariffs imposed under former President Donald Trump. .
Both sides agree they need to tackle excess global steel capacity largely centered in China. Washington may struggle to remove tariffs on metals, which are backed by many American producers and metalworkers.
Altmaier said shared concerns about overcapacity and a common interest in moving towards more environmentally friendly steel production could facilitate a deal.
Tai’s office said she stressed the need for collaboration with Germany and the EU to address “shared concerns about China’s non-market practices, including forced labor and excess capacity.”
Altmaier said he and Tai also discussed a proposal to waive intellectual property rights being discussed at the World Trade Organization in response to the pandemic, but stressed that Germany does not see this as a the only possible solution.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio