USTR Tai says she will join Biden in Brussels for talks on EU trade disputes

USTR Tai says she will join Biden in Brussels for talks on EU trade disputes

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Katherine Tai, nominee for US Trade Representative speaks at the Senate Finance Committee hearing at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, U.S. February 25, 2021. Tasos Katopodis/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Thursday she will accompany President Joe Biden to Brussels next week for “intense negotiations” to try to resolve trade disputes over aircraft, steel and aluminum.

Tai said in prepared remarks at an AFL-CIO union event that she will fight for the rights and interests of U.S. workers in those industries and work to set new standards to combat China’s industrial policies.

“We’ll participate in intense negotiations to resolve the 16-year-old Boeing/Airbus disputes and to find a path forward on products like steel and aluminum,” Tai said.

The EU wants the Biden administration to lift the “Section 232” national security tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminum, and a draft communique for a U.S.-EU summit next week includes language setting deadlines on lifting “additional/punitive” tariffs related to the dispute.

Tai has said such an action must be tied to a solution that addresses chronic excess production capacity in those industries, largely centered in China.

She told the AFL-CIO “virtual town hall” of union members that she would use her meeting with European counterparts to talk about opportunities to deal with such unfair trading practices, and excess capacity, but reiterated support for protecting the domestic metals industry.

“The steel industry is critical to our economy and our national security,” Tai said in response to a question from a member of the United Steelworkers union. “President Biden is committed to protecting our steel industry and workers like you from unfair trading practices.”

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