CAOBISCO joins call to end US trade dispute over steel and aluminium

CAOBISCO, the European chocolate, biscuits and confectionery trade association, has joined with a number of other leading industry bodies seeking to end an ongoing EU trade dispute with the US impacting on steel and aluminium supplies, writes Neill Barston.

The Brussels-headquartered sweets and snacks organisation said that it welcomed the emergence of the Transatlantic Trade & Technology Council, which it hoped would bring an end to the ‘Section 232’ saga that has lasted over three years with America.

As the group of associations argued, securing permanent removal of tariffs on unrelated sectors will also allow both sides to establish a positive transatlantic trade agenda and focus on common areas of interest, such as climate change, the digital agenda and reform of the WTO.

It had begun in 2018, when former US president Donald Trump ordered a 25% import duty on steel from all foreign sources, and a 10% levy on aluminium – prompting a response from the EU in placing tariffs on a range of US goods.

Consequently, a joint statement from the EU bodies, which include CECIMO (European Association of the Machine Tool Industries and related Manufacturing Technologies), CEMA, the European agricultural machinery association), and FRUCOM, the European Federation of the trade in dried fruit and vegetables.

The bodies said: “EU & US leaders are about to turn a new page in their relationship and launch the transatlantic Trade & Technology Council, we want to stress the importance of resolving the Section 232 dispute once and for all, and of removing the tariffs which unfairly impact products and sectors unrelated to the source of the dispute.

“Our organisations want to reiterate the critical importance of the transatlantic relationship for our sectors, the European economy & employment in Europe. We welcome the steps taken by both sides to seek to de-escalate the dispute in the last months – and particularly the EU’s decision not to impose the second tranche of rebalancing measures on 1 June. We fully support the common goal to reach a fruitful solution & thereby remove all remaining punitive tariffs by the end of November. The removal of all remaining rebalancing tariffs and the commitment not to impose new tariffs would provide a welcome boost to our sectors, many of which have been hit hard by the Covid pandemic and related economic slowdown.”

The group of bodies added that many of its sectors rely on open trade flows with the US as part of their production processes in the EU. For others, affected US goods are an essential and integral part of their portfolios, allowing them to invest in EU production & distribution and create local jobs and growth in the EU in the process.

In addition, the collective called on EU President von der Leyen, Vice-President Dombrovskis and EU leaders to intensify their efforts towards a comprehensive and speedy resolution of this dispute, in order to support our members in their post-COVID recovery efforts and to help boost & accelerate investment in the EU.


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