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EU urges US to make steel import quotas less rigid

The United States needs to make quotas for imported EU steel far less rigid, assuming they are extended beyond the end of this year, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said on Monday.

Washington suspended import tariffs of 25% on EU steel and 10% on EU aluminium for two years from January 2022, replacing tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump with quotas.

The two sides were supposed to agree on measures to address overcapacity and promote low-carbon production, but failed to do so at a U.S.-EU summit in October. Washington has offered to extend the tariff suspension to allow more time for talks.

Dombrovskis told a news conference after a meeting of EU ministers on trade that the bloc too wanted an extension. However, while the EU had fully dropped retaliatory tariffs, the United States had imposed a “rigid” tariff rate quota system.

The TRQ allows up to 3.3 million metric tons of EU steel and 384,000 tons of aluminium into the United States tariff-free, reflecting past trade levels, with the tariffs applying for any further amounts.

EU steel was subject to some $264 million of U.S. tariffs last year.

Dombrovskis said the system set quarterly quotas for 54 different steel products for all 27 EU countries individually. He said Commission officials were in intensive talks with U.S. counterparts to press for a shift to a system more reflecting historical flows, such as an EU-wide quotas with fewer products and for a half or full year.

“There is some openness on the U.S. side but it remains to be seen how meaningful (are) the improvements the U.S. side will be able to put forward before deciding on next steps,” Dombrovskis said. He declined to specify what those next steps could be.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by David Evans)

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