U.S. and Europe Look for Tariff Cease-Fire as Biden Heads Overseas

on Jun9
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WASHINGTON — The United States and the European Union are working toward an agreement that would settle long-running disputes over aircraft subsidies and metals tariffs that set off a trade war during the Trump administration as President Biden looks to re-engage with traditional American allies.

The two sides are hoping to reach an agreement by mid-July with a goal of lifting tariffs that both governments have placed on each other’s goods by Dec. 1, according to a joint statement that is being drafted before the U.S.-E.U. summit that Mr. Biden will attend in Brussels next week.

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

The joint statement suggested an eagerness on both sides of the Atlantic to end a trade fight that has resulted in tariffs on a wide range of goods — including American peanut butter, orange juice and whiskey as well as levies on European wine and cheese.

In March, the United States and European Union agreed to temporarily suspend tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s aircraft, wine, food and other products as both sides try to find a negotiated settlement to a dispute over the two leading airplane manufacturers.

The World Trade Organization had authorized both the United States and Europe to impose tariffs on each other as part of two parallel disputes, which began almost two decades ago, over subsidies the governments have given to Airbus and Boeing. The European Union had imposed tariffs on about $4 billion of American products, while the United States levied tariffs on $7.5 billion of European goods.

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

The negotiations come as the United States is broadly reviewing its trade policy with a new focus on multilateralism.

Last week, the Biden administration suspended retaliatory tariffs on European countries in response to digital services taxes that they have imposed as negotiations over a broader tax agreement play out.

As part of the effort to deepen ties, the United States and European Union plan to establish a trade and technology council to help expand investment and prevent new disputes from emerging. It will also focus on strengthening supply chains for critical technology such as semiconductors, which have been in short supply in the last year.

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

The draft document says, “We intend to closely consult and cooperate on the full range of issues in the framework of our respective similar multifaceted approaches to China.”

The U.S.-E.U. summit will take place next Tuesday.

Matina Stevis-Gridneff contributed reporting from Brussels.

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