President Joe Biden on Sunday touted a new agreement reached with the European Union to ease Trump-era tariffs on aluminum and steel as a “major breakthrough” that would serve to both strengthen the US steel industry and combat the global climate crisis.
“The United States and the European Union have reached a major breakthrough that will address the existential threat of climate change while also protecting American jobs and American industry,” Biden said at the G20 Summit, which is taking place this year in Rome.
The President said the US and EU were “ushering in a new era of transatlantic cooperation,” and underscored the importance of working with allies toward shared goals.
The move immediately removes tariffs on the European Union on a range of US products that were put in place by former President Donald Trump. Biden said the move would lower costs for American consumers, strengthen the US steel industry and create good-paying union jobs.
As part of the deal, the US and the EU announced their commitment to negotiating a carbon-based sectoral arrangement on steel and aluminum trade by 2024. The President said the agreement would “incentivize emission reductions in one of the most carbon-intense sectors of the global economy.”
They also committed to working to restrict access to their markets for dirty steel — steel that has another material along with it — from countries like China. They will also limit access to countries that dump steel in their markets, which Biden said harms workers, the industry and the environment.
“Today is a testament of the power of American diplomacy and strong partnerships to deliver tangible benefits for American workers and the middle class families in America,” Biden said.
In 2018, Trump announced a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% tariff on aluminum to shore up the struggling industries. The move was swiftly rebuked by US manufacturers of products made using steel and aluminum who maintained that the tariffs would cost jobs in their operations and increase consumer prices. National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Saturday that the tariffs were “one of the largest bilateral irritants in the US-EU relationship.”
The President on Sunday thanked Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai for their work in brokering the deal.
The US and EU will create a technical working group that will share relevant data and develop a common methodology for assessing the embedded emissions of traded steel and aluminum, they said in a joint statement on the new agreement.
They said in their joint statement that the global arrangement would be open to “any interested country that shares our commitment to achieving the goals of restoring market-orientation and reducing trade in carbon intensive steel and aluminium products.”
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday the new agreement was a “big step forward in fighting climate change” and that it “marks a milestone in the renewed EU-US partnership.”
Von der Leyen said it would “add a new powerful tool in our quest for sustainability” and would be a “major step forward in achieving climate neutrality.”
“We will work together with the United States to ensure the long-term viability of our industry and to encourage the production and trade of low carbon steel,” Von der Leyen said.
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