U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is heading to Brussels for a summit hosted by the European Council next week and says she’s optimistic ahead of expected “intense negotiations” to end two disputes with the European Union as well as work with European allies to address trade challenges from China.

The U.S. and EU are both suspending retaliatory tariffs when it comes to the dueling disputes over airplane subsidies – including EU tariffs on U.S. orange juice, cotton, grapefruit, almonds, walnuts and cheese.

And as to the U.S. Section 232 tariffs on EU steel and aluminum and the European retaliatory tariffs, Tai said she’s hopeful both sides can “find a path forward” to end the trade friction.

It was the Trump administration that levied the tariffs on European steel and aluminum as part of a worldwide effort to protect U.S. producers from imports. The U.S. – under both the previous and current administration - considers China the primary culprit behind the overproduction of steel and aluminum that floods the international market and lowers prices, but most of that Chinese metal doesn’t come into the U.S. directly. Instead, much of it enters through third countries.

But EU officials also express concerns about Chinese over-production and Tai said Thursday she is eager to work with allies to take on their mutual concerns.

“We will be better able to respond to global over-capacity if we consult … with our allies,” said Tai in an address to the AFL-CIO. “These talks (in Brussels) will give us a chance first and foremost to champion the rights and interests of our workers … while also creating new standards to combat the harmful and industrial policies of China and other countries.”

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U.S. ag groups are also hopeful that eventually the U.S. and China will resolve their dispute over steel and aluminum because Chinese retaliatory tariffs continue to impact U.S. exports of pork and other commodities. China is levying about $3 billion worth of retaliatory tariffs on pork, oranges, walnuts, dairy, apples, almonds, broccoli and other commodities. The tariffs range from 15% to 25%.

Tai told lawmakers last month that the Biden administration is looking into a better trade remedy than the Section 232 tariffs that are imposed in the name of protecting national security, but Tai also assured the unions Thursday that the USTR will continue to protect U.S. steel mills.

“The steel industry is critical to our economy and national security,” she said. “China and several other countries have used … unfair subsidies to flood the global market. President (Joe) Biden is committed to protecting our steel industry from unfair trade practices.”

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