ROME — President Joe Biden announced at the G-20 summit on Sunday that the U.S. had reached a deal to roll back tariffs on billions of dollars of European steel and aluminum, easing a trade war that had strained the trans-Atlantic relationship since the Trump administration.
In a joint appearance, Biden and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced that the U.S and E.U would re-establish trade flows to pre-2018 levels, when then-President Donald Trump outraged some of America's closest allies by hitting them with the steep new tariffs. The E.U. in return will lift retaliatory tariffs on American goods and will not go forward with a new wave of tariffs they had planned to implement on Dec. 1
"Together the United States, the European Union, are ushering in a new era of trans-Atlantic cooperation that's going to benefit all of our people, both now and I believe, in the years to come," Biden said.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the agreement between the U.S. and E.U. delivered on President Joe Biden's "mission to turn the page on past disputes and begin a new chapter of enhanced trans-Atlantic relations."
Biden administration officials argued that the deal would protect U.S. workers, lower costs for American consumers and address supply chain issues. Raimondo also said that the deal took into consideration "carbon intensity" and would allow for the manufacturing of steel and aluminum that is "significantly cleaner" compared to what is produced in China.
In a closing press conference Sunday evening, Biden said that G-20 leaders had made "tangible progress" on shared challenges including climate change, as pressure ramps up for the U.S. and other high carbon-emitting countries to commit to more aggressive action ahead of this week's United Nations climate summit.
When asked to respond to disappointment from some experts that the G-20 climate commitments had not gone far enough, Biden said the disappointment "relates to the fact that Russia and China basically didn’t show up."
Earlier in the day, Biden sat down with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Sunday morning for a one-on-one meeting before participating in the second plenary session of the G-20.
Turkey has requested to purchase the F-16 fighters from the U.S., but the deal has been complicated by Ankara’s decision to buy an air defense missile system from Russia. Biden did not respond to questions from reporters about Turkey's record on human rights and whether the country had grown too close to Russia.
In a statement following the meeting, the White House said Biden had "reaffirmed our defense partnership and Turkey’s importance as a NATO Ally, but noted U.S. concerns over Turkey’s possession of the Russian S-400 missile system." The president also "underscored his desire to maintain constructive relations, expand areas of cooperation, and manage our disagreements effectively," the White House said.
Sunday's G-20 sessions were focused on climate change and the environment, as well as sustainable development.
"The cost of action — however it might seem — is trivial compared to the price of inaction," Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said in opening remarks. "The fight against climate change involves quite literally the whole world. We stand united in success and failure."
In the afternoon, Biden hosted an event on "global supply chain resilience through the pandemic and recovery," according to his official schedule.
Biden announced new steps the U.S. would take to ramp up supply chain resilience, including streamlining U.S. stockpile efforts, increased funding for international trade facilitation activities, and the formation of a multi-stakeholder summit next year.
"I urge all of you, all of you to consider bolstering your stockpiles critical to national security in your country," he said at the event on Sunday.
The coronavirus pandemic upended global supply chains, as factories shut down and consumer behavior dramatically changed overnight. Supply chain problems have persisted as many Western countries have begun to emerge from the pandemic eager to return to more regular spending habits, while some countries like China remain under Covid restrictions and unable to meet demand.
The imbalance in the supply chain has led to a shortage of goods — everything from computer chips to kid’s toys and running shoes — as well as an increase in prices for consumers that has threatened to delay the post-pandemic economic recovery.
At the conclusion of Sunday’s meeting, heads of state will release a joint communique, the statement that G-20 leaders issue at the end of the summit outlining their priorities and actions they agreed to take. G-20 members are expected to formally endorse the 15 percent global minimum corporation tax in Sunday’s communique.
The joint communique is not legally binding, but rather relies on “the good behavior of others,” according to Jeff Dayton-Johnson, dean of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
“It is pretty easy to be skeptical about whether or not [communiques] are effective,” Dayton-Johnson said. “But if the G-20 makes a statement that commits member countries to more cooperation on global taxation, then there’s plenty of political forces in G-20 countries that can keep the pressure on their governments to adhere to those agreements.”