COP26: Joe Biden arrives in Glasgow for climate summit
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After years of dented relations with the EU under Donald Trump, the current US President agreed to drop tariffs on certain amounts of EU steel and aluminium imports from the bloc. While striking a conciliatory tone with the EU, Mr Biden has yet to comment on the UK’s clash with Brussels over Northern Ireland and the fishing row with France during the summit. Although the US has only suspended tariffs rather than abolished them, the EU will be able to export 4.4 million tonnes of steel to the USA tariff-free.
Limited volumes of EU aluminium will also be allowed to be exported to the US.
The tariffs had been introduced by Mr Trump in 2018 and caused the EU to introduce tariffs on bourbon, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and motorboats which were set to double on December 1.
The two sides also agreed on measures to retain tariffs on steel production which did not meet low-carbon standards.
While China produces steel through high-carbon emitting standards, the EU and US are looking towards electrically powered furnaces.
It is also thought such measures may stop China from dumping steel imports in the EU which alter and distorts the bloc’s internal market.
Gabriel Felbermayr, Director of the Austrian Institute for Economic Research (WIFO) said: “This is a very encouraging step.
“Such a plurilateral agreement could become the core of a climate club in which the participating countries deal with different climate policies in a cooperative manner and avoid trade disputes.”
Bernd Lange, the chairman of the trade committee in the European Parliament said in contrast: “It is right to reduce global, unfair and CO2-intensive steel production.
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“But we have to be careful that we don’t build an anti-coalition here that is directed against individual states.
“That is why it has to happen within the framework of the WTO and be open to all states.”
While the EU and US agreed to a de-escalation over tariffs, the UK and France remain locked in tense talks over the state of fisheries in Jersey.
On Monday, Emmanuel Macron stepped back from initiating threats to cut off energy supplies to the UK.
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Prior to his climb down, UK officials had warned the Government will use measures within the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
Lord Frost will travel to Paris on Thursday for talks with EU minister Clement Beaune to discuss matters.
Ahead of the meeting, a Government source claimed the UK wants to find a consensual solution.
They said: “We’re glad that France has stepped back.
“We’ve stuck to our position and were ready to respond if they had bought forward these measures, which would have put the EU in breach of the [EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement] TCA.
“Our position on fishing licenses remains unchanged. We are clear that our position has always been in line with the TCA, while we remain open to considering further evidence to support the remaining applications under the terms of the agreement.
“We look forward to hearing how France and the EU want to proceed on Thursday when we discuss a range of issues important to the U.K.-EU relationship, including the Northern Ireland protocol.
“We are in solutions mode and we want to resolve these issues consensually if we can.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.
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