EU wins hope of temporary reprieve from US metal tariffs

22 March 2018 1:41pm
EU US Flags

22 March 2018. By Joanna Sopinska and Poppy Carnell.

The EU may have won a temporary reprieve from US tariffs on steel and aluminum, MLex has learned.

Under the plan from US trade officials, the bloc will be exempt, for now, from the tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, according to three EU officials briefed on the matter. The deal came after EU trade chief Cecilia Malmström met top US trade officials Robert Lighthizer and Wilbur Ross in Washington yesterday.

But the measure needs final approval from US President Donald Trump, and is no guarantee of a permanent EU exemption from the tariffs. Rather, it shields the EU from the tariffs when they come into force tomorrow, facilitating ongoing negotiations for a permanent exemption, the officials said.

The US wants to attach several conditions to any permanent exemption, many of them to do with China, officials said. The US wants closer cooperation from the EU in tackling China’s oversupply of steel. It also wants the bloc to put more pressure on China regarding investment protection and its use of intellectual property.

Yesterday, a senior official at the Office of the US Trade Representative suggested that China had undertaken policies designed to steal US intellectual property.

April deadline

Lighthizer said yesterday that negotiations for permanent exemptions to the tariffs will continue until the end of April. Besides the EU, other countries including Australia, South Korea, Argentina and Brazil could also be exempted, he said.

Meanwhile, the EU and the US have set up a platform to discuss how to address issues of general oversupply on the global steel market. Trump has said countries able to assuage his concerns over national security — his stated reason for the new tariffs — could win exemptions.