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EU and U.S. to start talks that could end steel tariffs imposed under Trump

An employee at the Bardstown Bourbon Company seals a barrel after it was filled with bourbon in Bardstown, Kentucky.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — The European Union and United States are to start talks to address the steel tariffs imposed by Washington D.C. during the presidency of Donald Trump.

In a joint statement Monday, the U.S. Trade Representative and the European Commission said they were “committed to engaging in these discussions expeditiously to find solutions before the end of the year that will demonstrate how the U.S. and EU can address excess capacity, ensure the long-term viability of our steel and aluminum industries, and strengthen our democratic alliance.”

This issue has weighed on the trans-Atlantic relationship for more than two years.

The United States imposed a 25% tariff on European steel and 10% tariff on aluminum back in June 2018 on the grounds of national security.

The EU contested the move from the start and after multiple failed attempts to reach a deal with the Trump administration, the bloc took the case to the World Trade Organization and imposed retaliatory measures on up to 6.4 billion euros ($7.78 billion) of U.S. exports. The EU’s targeted products included Bourbon whiskey, peanut butter and orange juice.

Of this amount, the EU first targeted 2.8 billion euros of U.S. exports and said it would apply the remaining 3.6 billion euros three years later or after a positive result at the WTO. This second tranche of tariffs was expected to come into force in June.

The European Commission confirmed on Monday that it was temporarily suspending the additional set of tariffs due in June as talks proceed over a possible deal.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said on Monday: “Our joint aim is to put an end to the WTO disputes following the U.S. application of tariffs on imports from the EU.”

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