WASHINGTON: The European Union is ready to look at solutions to its steel and aluminum trade dispute with the United States that incorporate elements of import monitoring and safeguard pacts that Washington struck with Canada and Mexico in 2019, the EU's trade chief said on Tuesday.
European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters ahead of a US-EU trade and technology summit on Wednesday that time was running short for an agreement to lift US tariffs on EU-made steel by an end-November deadline.
He said that a deal needed to be reached by early November because it would likely require about a month to implement before the expiration of a truce that suspended an escalation of EU retaliatory tariffs on US goods.
"On other solutions which have been reached with other countries - with Canada, with Mexico and also other countries - we are ready to look at what kinds of different solutions, and what is potentially useful ... in the EU case," Dombrovskis said.
Dombrovskis declined to specify which elements might be acceptable to Europe, but the US agreements with Canada and Mexico removed metals tariffs in exchange for a strict monitoring regime aimed at halting products being transshipped or dumped from third countries into the United States.
Should imports from Canada or Mexico "surge meaningfully beyond historic volumes over a period of time," the United States can request consultations, after which it retains the right to re-impose 25% tariffs on steel and 10% tariffs on aluminum. The US neighbors' retaliation for such tariffs would be limited to steel and aluminum products.
The Trump administration imposed the "Section 232" tariffs in March 2018, claiming that surging imports threatened US national security by weakening domestic producers.
The European Union retaliated by imposing tariffs on US-made bourbon whiskey, motorcycles and other products, but the two sides agreed in May to not ecalate the dispute while they launched negotiations to resolve it.
Brazil and South Korea have agreed to a more traditional style tariff-rate quota arrangement with the United States that allow tariff-free imports below certain volumes.