US, Europe seek tariff ceasefire as Biden heads overseas

WASHINGTON – The United States and the European Union are working on a deal that would resolve long-standing disputes over aircraft subsidies and metal tariffs that sparked a trade war under the Trump administration as President Biden seeks to reconnect with traditional American allies.

The two sides hope to reach an agreement by mid-July to lift tariffs the two governments have imposed on each other’s goods by December 1, according to an ongoing joint statement. draft before the US-EU summit that Mr Biden will be in Brussels next week.

Resolving trade tensions with Europe and other allies is a key goal of the Biden administration, which is trying to mend the relationship that broke under President Donald J. Trump, whose provocative approach to trade policy included the punishment of tariffs. Mr Biden and other administration officials have said they want to rebuild those relations, in part so the United States can work with its allies to counter China and Russia.

The joint declaration suggests a willingness on both sides of the Atlantic to end a trade struggle that has resulted in tariffs on a wide range of products, including American peanut butter, orange juice and whiskey, as well as taxes on European wine and cheese.

“We pledge to make all possible efforts to find comprehensive and lasting solutions to our trade disputes and to avoid further retaliatory measures weighing on transatlantic trade,” the document said.

Draft was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.

The desire to reach a deal came as Mr Biden left for a summit meeting in Britain with leaders of the Group of 7 on Wednesday, his first international trip as chairman.

As he boarded Air Force One, he said his priority was to reestablish relations with his counterparts.

“Strengthen the alliance and make Putin and China understand that Europe and the United States are tight and the G7 is going to move,” Biden said of his goals for the trip.

Discussions over tariff easing come at a critical time for the global economy as countries emerge from the pandemic. Widespread commodity shortages due to supply chain bottlenecks and growing consumer demand have driven up prices and worried policymakers.

In March, the United States and the European Union agreed to temporarily suspend tariffs on billions of dollars in respective airplanes, wine, food and other goods, as the two sides attempt to find a negotiated settlement to a dispute involving the two major aircraft manufacturers.

The World Trade Organization had allowed the United States and Europe to impose tariffs on each other in two parallel disputes, which began nearly two decades ago, over government subsidies. to Airbus and Boeing. The European Union has imposed tariffs on approximately $ 4 billion of American products, while the United States has imposed tariffs on $ 7.5 billion of European products.

The two governments are also trying to resolve a battle over tariffs on steel and aluminum that Mr. Trump imposed in 2018. Tariffs of 25% on imports of European steel and 10% on aluminum spurred retaliation from Europe, which imposed similar tariffs on American products. like bourbon, orange juice, jeans and motorcycles.

The negotiations come as the United States broadly revises its trade policy with an emphasis on multilateralism.

Last week, the Biden administration suspended retaliatory tariffs on European countries in response to taxes on digital services they imposed as negotiations on a broader tax deal unfold.

As part of efforts to deepen their relationship, the United States and the European Union plan to establish a trade and technology council to help increase investment and prevent new disputes from arising. He will also focus on strengthening supply chains for critical technologies such as semiconductors, which were scarce last year.

The alliance represents another tool the administration intends to use to push back China’s growing economic influence, which Biden has repeatedly called a threat to the United States. While the president has so far avoided hitting China with new tariffs, he has yet to remove the levies imposed by Mr. Trump on $ 360 billion in Chinese goods. Last week, the administration banned Americans from investing in Chinese companies linked to the country’s military or engaged in the sale of surveillance technology used to suppress dissent or religious minorities.

The draft document states, “We intend to consult closely and cooperate on all issues within the framework of our respective China-like multifaceted approaches. “

The US-EU summit will take place next Tuesday.

Matina Stevis-Gridneff contributed to reports from Brussels.

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