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U.S. reaches deal with European Union over steel and aluminum tariffs

30October 2021

Steel ingots emerge from an oven at the Saarsthal rail plant in Hayange, France, on Sept. 13, 2021. The United States and European Union have reached a deal on steel and aluminum tariffs.

Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP via Getty Images

Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — The Biden administration has announced the broad outlines of a deal to end an expensive economic impasse that had led to growing tension between the United States and the European Union.

The United States will keep steel and aluminum tariffs on European nations, but will allow a certain amount of steel and aluminum produced in the EU to enter U.S. markets tariff-free.

Biden administration officials who briefed reporters on the breakthrough Saturday did not provide specifics on how much material would be allowed under the agreement.

Administration officials say that in return, the EU will drop retail tariffs it had put in place against high-profile American industries as a retaliatory move. Those rates had been set to increase in December.

The tariffs, which applied to every country except Canada and Mexico, were first introduced in 2018 under the Trump Administration — 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum.

“A strong steel and aluminum industry are vital to our national security, absolutely vital,” Trump said at the time. “Steel is steel. You don’t have steel, you don’t have a country.”

International outcry over the tariffs was swift and global markets fell sharply. The EU retaliated with its own tariffs soon after.

Now, the change in policy — announced during the G-20 economic summit in Rome — appears to be an attempt to strike a balance between keeping protections for U.S. producers nominally in place, but addressing the cost increases the tariffs have led to, in a moment of rising inflation that has lasted longer than Biden officials had first anticipated.

Scott Detrow reported from Rome; Deepa Shivaram is based in Washington, D.C.

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