The Council green-lights mini tariff package with the US
The Council has backed a mini tariff package of mutual concessions with the US. In a move to improve transatlantic trade relations, the EU will scrap customs duties on imports of lobsters. In return, the US will reduce its duties on certain EU products exported to the US. This tariff package is the first EU-US tariff reduction in two decades. The decision was adopted yesterday by EU ambassadors and will now be communicated to the European Parliament, which will vote on the regulation in an upcoming plenary session.
Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany and President of the Trade Council yesterday said:
This tariff package entails benefits for both sides and reduces the cost of imports during the critical period of the COVID-19 pandemic. The trade in goods and services between the EU and the US is worth over €1.3 trillion annually, which is the most important economic partnership in the world. It is time to move forward, deepen our transatlantic cooperation and solve our outstanding disputes.
The Permanent Representatives Committee yesterday decided to support putting the Joint Statement, announced on 21 August 2020 by the EU and the US to eliminate/reduce tariffs, into effect. The tariff relief is expected to increase access to both EU and US markets by around €200 million per year.
The package will translate into a reduction of US tariffs on EU exports worth some $160 million a year, including prepared meals, crystal glassware, surface preparations, propellant powders, lighters and lighter parts. The US producers will benefit from the elimination of tariffs on imports of live and frozen lobster products. US exports of these products to the EU are worth some $111 million.
Both sides will eliminate/reduce those tariffs on a most-favoured nation (MFN) basis, i.e. for any partner, in line with the existing multilateral commitments. The measures will apply with retroactive effect from 1 August 2020 for five years.
On 8 September 2020 the Commission adopted a proposal on a regulation to put the EU-US agreement on tariffs into effect.
On 11 November 2020 the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade approved the Commission proposal without any amendments.
The Council will now communicate its backing to the Parliament. Following adoption of the EP’s position at first reading, the Council will be called upon to formally adopt the Regulation so that it can be published in the Official Journal and enter into force.
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