U.S. and Europe to Begin Talks on Steel and Aluminum Tariffs



Many of the European tariffs targeted the constituencies of powerful Republicans. The duties on whiskey hit makers of bourbon in Kentucky, home of Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader. The planned increases would have raised the tariff on whiskey to 50 percent, forcing many small producers out of the European market, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, an industry group.

“Distillers across the United States are breathing a huge sigh of relief,” Chris Swonger, the council’s president, said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to resolve these longstanding trade disputes and reduce the economic pain felt by those industries unfairly caught in the middle.”

The association that represents U.S. steel makers was more restrained, emphasizing that the talks should focus on the problem of subsidies that encourage companies to produce more steel than the market can absorb, pushing down prices.

“While China is the single largest source of global steel oversupply, subsidies and other market distorting policies in many countries are contributing to the overcapacity crisis,” Kevin Dempsey, president of the American Iron and Steel Institute, said in a statement. “Injurious surges in imports have come from every region of the world.”

The announcement Monday was the most recent sign of gradual improvement in trade relations since Mr. Biden took office, and comes ahead of a planned visit by the president to Europe in June.

In March, the United States and the European Union temporarily suspended tariffs on billions of dollars of each others’ aircraft, wine, food and other products as they worked to settle a long-running dispute involving Boeing and Airbus, the two leading airplane manufacturers. The United States also temporarily suspended retaliatory tariffs against British products like Scotch whisky that had been imposed as part of the dispute over aircraft subsidies.

Trade officials will discuss how to address a global supply glut that poses “a serious threat to the market-oriented E.U. and U.S. steel and aluminum industries and the workers in those industries,” Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative; Gina M. Raimondo, the secretary of commerce; and Mr. Dombrovskis said in a joint statement Monday.


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