- The United States will lift tariffs on some steel and aluminum imports coming from Europe beginning Dec. 1 as part of an agreement to ease trade tensions between the two countries, the White House announced Sunday.
- The agreement sets a quota allowing a certain amount of steel and aluminum to be imported from the European Union duty-free, with anything above that level subject to existing tariffs. In response, the EU said it will remove billions of dollars worth of retaliatory tariffs on bourbon and other American-made products that were set to increase next month, according to a statement.
- The deal will last two years, over which time the U.S. and the EU will negotiate a new agreement to permanently lift tariffs and pressure other countries to reduce carbon emissions from the metal-making process, the White House said.
The agreement somewhat eases import costs as steel prices skyrocket and industries including construction have been left scrounging for supplies. While it does not completely remove tariffs, steelmakers say the new quota will address rising prices while still prioritizing domestic producers and addressing an overcapacity of steel in China.
"We appreciate the Biden administration’s continued recognition that the American steel industry is critical to our national and economic security, as well as its commitment to addressing the global steel overcapacity crisis and to combatting unfair trade practices in the global steel sector," Kevin Dempsey, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute, said in a statement.
Europe's move to lift 25% retaliatory tariffs also eases costs for retailers who were swept up in the escalating tit-for-tat tariff war. The E.U. responded to then-President Donald Trump's 2018 steel and aluminum tariffs with retaliatory tariffs of its own on American-made products including whiskey, jeans, orange juice and motorcycles.
"We are excited that this brings an end to a conflict that was not of our making, and in which Harley-Davidson had no place," Jochen Zeitz, CEO of the motorcycle maker, said in a statement.
Whiskey exports to the EU plunged 37% due to tariffs, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, and the association said removed duties "provides a boost not only to U.S. distillers across the country, but also to the entire U.S. supply chain from grain to glass."
The group is now pressuring the Biden administration to negotiate an agreement with the U.K., which still has tariffs in place.
"The end of this long tariff nightmare is in sight for U.S. distillers, who have struggled with the weight of the tariffs and the pandemic," said Distilled Spirits Council President Chris Swonger in a statement. "It’s time for the UK to lift its tariff on American Whiskeys so we can all get back to toasts, not tariffs."