ROME — The White House announced Saturday that the U.S., EU and other countries had reached an agreement to end their diplomatic rift over Trump’s-era aluminum and steel tariffs. This announcement came while President Joe Biden was in Rome for the Group of 20 summit.
The Trump administration placed taxes in 2018 to tax EU steel and aluminum, claiming that foreign products made by American allies were a danger to U.S. security. Europeans and other allies were furious at Trump’s use Article 232 as a justification for the tariffs. Many imposed countertariffs on U.S. made motorcycles, bourbons, peanut butter, and jeans.
The agreement was announced Saturday by Jake Sullivan, U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai, and Gina Raimondo, Commerce Secretary. They stated that Article 232 tariffs will not be completely removed, but that some amount of European steel or aluminum will be allowed into the U.S. under the agreement without any tariffs.
” We were able to come to an agreement in which the EU will remove their retaliatory tariffs on American goods. Raimondo stated. Raimondo said that the agreement would ensure that all steel imported to the U.S. through Europe is made entirely in Europe.
The easing of tariffs is a crucial step in resolving one of Trump’s legacy as Biden tried to reset the U.S.-Europe relationship. This back-and-forth hurt European farmers and raised steel prices for American businesses. Trump’s stated goal of creating jobs in steel mills was not achieved by the tariffs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics show that jobs in the manufacturing of primary metals did rise slightly, to as much as 389,100 in 2019. However, mills lost workers during the pandemic and employment in this sector is about half of what it was in 1990..
The European Union took steps to improve relations in May. The EU temporarily suspended planned increases due to retaliatory tariffs. The EU temporarily suspended planned increases in tariffs, meaning that American whiskey was subject to a 25% European tax instead of a planned 50% euro tax. Both sides had until December to avoid the higher tax rate.
The summit’s host, the Italian Premier Mario Draghi made a statement Saturday night expressing his “great satisfaction” with the tariff agreement. He said that the decision “confirms further reinforcement underway of Transatlantic relations, and the progressive overcoming the protectionism of previous years.”
The announcement also was welcomed by Chris Swonger, president and CEO of Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, after what he called “three very difficult years of sagging American whiskey exports.”
“Lifting this tariff burden on American whiskeys not only boosts U.S. distillers and farmers, it also supports the recovery of EU restaurants, bars and distilleries hit hard by the pandemic,” Swonger said.