U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said last week she had high hopes for the current negotiations between the United States and Europe over putting to bed an ongoing dispute over aluminium and steel tariffs.
“The conversations are intensive,” Tai said to reporters late in the week. “Let’s say I’m optimistic.”
Talks are centered on the Trump administration’s blanket tariffs on imported aluminium and steel and the European Union’s retaliatory tariffs, which are suspended until the first of December.
In addition with a meeting with European Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis, Tai also met with representatives of European Steel Association (EUROFER), whom she says could play a key role in brokering a breakthrough.
“Ambassador Tai stressed the need to make rapid progress to reach a consensus to preserve our critical industries and meet the economic and environmental goals shared by the United States and European Union,” said Tai’s office in a statement.
Tai went on to say that the United States’ solution would keep the aluminium and steel industries of both the US and Europe robust and competitive with the rest of the world. But she cautioned reporters that the negotiations were highly complex.
“I don’t want you to think that essentially this is an exercise at a Turkish bazaar where we’re negotiating the price for carpet,” she explained. “This is actually a more multifaceted negotiation.”
“If we can take steps together, if we can commit to collaborating, then we can modify this tension between us so that we can be a more powerful force and push back on a common challenge.”
Former President Trump implemented blanket tariffs on aluminium and steel after an investigation under the rarely-used Section 232 found that aluminium imports threatened national defense. The administration subsequently handed out exemptions to a handful of countries, but the European Union received no such favors.