Joe Biden praised for ‘not wavering’ on China
The United States and the European Union on Sunday ended a dispute over steel and aluminium tariffs and said they would work on a global arrangement to combat “dirty” production and overcapacity in the industry.
The future EU-US arrangement will be a challenge for China, which produces more than half of the world’s steel and which the EU and US accuse of creating overcapacity that is threatening the survival of their own steel industries.
“The United States and the European Union have reached a major breakthrough that will address the existential threat of climate change while also protecting American jobs and American industry,” US President Joe Biden told reporters in Rome in a joint event with European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
Under the deal, Washington will allow EU countries duty free access for steel and aluminium exports to the United States in volumes comparable to those shipped before tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump’s administration in 2018.
In response, the EU removed retaliatory tariffs on US products including whiskey, power boats and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
EU news: Brussels and the US ended a dispute over steel and aluminium tariffs
But included in the deal is the commitment by Brussels to learn from America how to detect Chinese tariff circumvention.
A joint statement read: “The United States will also share public information and best practices with EU officials … on topics including how detection of fraud … is approached.”
Some EU officials told Politico the deal is a “pig requiring all the lipstick in the world.”
The United States and the European Union also plan to address the existential threat of climate change and production overcapacity in the steel industry, which is one of the biggest CO2 emitters in the world.
“Together, the United States and European Union will work to restrict access to their markets for dirty steel and limit access to countries that dump steel in our markets, contributing to worldwide over-supply,” the White House said in a factsheet without naming China directly.
Speaking to the press, President Biden was more explicit, saying the arrangement with the EU would help “restrict access to our markets for dirty steel from countries like China”.
The global deal is to be worked out over the next two years to promote “green” steel and aluminium production and will be open to other countries that want to join, including China, whose steel sector is responsible for 10-20 percent of the country’s CO2 emissions.
“The arrangement is, of course, open to all like-minded partners.
“Steel manufacturing is one of the highest carbon emission sources globally,” Ursula von der Leyen said.
The US Commerce Department said Washington was consulting with Japan and Britain on issues related to steel and aluminium, with a focus on the impacts of overcapacity on the global steel and aluminium markets.
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“The Global Arrangement will seek to ensure the long-term viability of our industries, encourage low-carbon intensity steel and aluminium production and trade, and restore market-oriented conditions,” the EU Commission said in a statement.
Leaders of the G20 failed to offer a new solution to climate change in Rome over the weekend.
President Biden said he was disappointed that more could not have been done and blamed China and Russia for not bringing proposals to the table.
“The disappointment relates to the fact that Russia and China basically didn’t show up in terms of any commitments to deal with climate change,” he told reporters.
Although the G20 pledged to stop financing coal power overseas, they set no timetable for phasing it out at home and watered down the wording on a promise to reduce emissions of methane – another potent greenhouse gas.
However, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who chaired the Rome gathering, hailed the final accord, saying that for the first time all G20 states had agreed on the importance of capping global warming at the 1.5 degrees Celsius level that scientists say is vital to avoid disaster.
“We made sure that our dreams are not only alive but they are progressing,” Draghi told a closing news conference, brushing off criticism from environmentalists that the G20 had not gone nearly far enough to resolve the crisis.
The G20, which includes Brazil, China, India, Germany and the United States, accounts for 60 percent of the world’s population and an estimated 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.