It’s been a relatively quiet week on the trade front in the EU given a Thursday bank holiday in many European countries and the European Commission declaring today (Friday 14 May) a holiday for its staff. Nonetheless, below some notable developments in EU trade policy.
EU and Algeria move to resolve bilateral trade dispute
The European Union initiated a formal dispute against Algeria as part of their 1990s Association Agreement following the introduction of a flurry of import restrictions – such as tariffs and import licenses – by the Mediterranean country on European products ranging from autos and telecommunications equipment to a range of food products. The dispute resolution process has been quiet and diplomatic, led via the Association Council.
The European Union and Algeria seem to be on a path to resolving the matter, with Algeria promising to abolish car and telecommunications equipment tariffs by a given date and to phase out remaining tariffs gradually. Delivery dates are yet to be negotiated. The EU published its joint position vis-à-vis Algeria on the matter this week. More here.
Moroccan (or Chinese?) glass fibre
The European Commission is pursuing further Chinese subsidies in products produced outside China and destined to the European Market by launching an investigation into glass-fibre product imports from Morocco.
In 2020 the EU made headlines by slapping anti-dumping duties on glass-fibre products imported from Egypt, partly on the grounds that they are produced by subsidiaries of Chinese companies that benefit from subsidies back home. Duties were slapped on three Chinese companies and were set at about 20% of the value of their exports to the EU.
This week, the European Commission initiated an investigation into whether the companies are circumventing such tariffs via Morocco.
USTR Katherine Tai on Airbus/Boeing, steel/aluminium, China
On Thursday, US Trade Representative spoke to the Ways and Means Committee in Congress and to members of the Committee of 100 – a Chinese-American association – on Thursday (13 May 2021). Abstracts from her speeches that will be of interest to Europeans:
“We are (…) working with the European Union and the United Kingdom to resolve the ongoing Boeing-Airbus dispute and are having constructive discussions to address the real problem of overcapacity in the steel and aluminium sectors coming primarily from China. These talks will take time, but I believe a resolution is possible and worth pursuing.”
“Those two issues underscore the importance of our ongoing comprehensive efforts to address trade frictions with our allies and strategic partners, so that we can turn to focusing on the challenges facing us today and tomorrow.”
“We will not hesitate to call out China’s coercive and unfair trade practices that harm American workers, undermine the multilateral system, or violate basic human rights. We are working towards a strong, strategic approach to our trade and economic relationship with China.”
“We welcome the competition. But the competition must be fair, and if China cannot or will not adapt to international rules and norms, we must be bold and creative in taking steps to level the playing field and enhance our own capabilities and partnerships. I’ve been encouraged that our trading partners also recognize this challenge and they are willing to find a common approach to our shared concerns.”
“Our security will depend on diversifying and securing the supply lines for the products. Improving our trade relations with trusted Allies and partners will not only improve our prosperity but our national security.”