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Europe will continue to pay for «unity» with the U.S.

“It takes time”. So U.S. President Joe Biden answered a question from a journalist about the prospects of lifting trade duties on steel and aluminum imports from the EU. The cancellation of the most resonant decisions of the previous administration was one of the main slogans for the team of the current American leader during the election campaign. However, not everything is so simple, at least in the sphere of trade with the closest allies.

The first months of Biden's presidency were indeed marked by some decisions that the Western media dubbed a “sharp reversal” in US foreign policy, meaning the rejection of isolationism. At the same time, no significant decisions have yet been made in the area of trade policy, which directly affects relations with Washington's overseas partners.

Inaction in this direction is criticized at home — American consumers continue to pay more for imported goods, US exporting companies continue to suffer from retaliatory measures imposed by foreign governments, and America's trading partners do not yet see any reason to restore more favorable conditions for cooperation with the United States.

Import duties on aluminum and steel imported to the United States from the European Union have been a stumbling block for more than two years. In 2018, US leader Donald Trump said that the import of these goods poses a threat to US national security. The irony is that in the 2 years after the introduction of duties by the Trump administration, the US steel industry employed only 2.5 thousand more people than at the time of the announcement of tariffs (378.5 thousand in 2020 against 376 thousand in 2018, according to the US Bureau of Statistics).

At the same time, Biden's team has upheld Trump's tariffs on Chinese products. All this is widely criticized as the practice of using illegal tools, which US Trade Representative Katherine Tai openly called a “system of leverage”. If in the situation with China, such a term seems logical, then in the case of the European Union, the question remains open — is the United States going to demand new concessions from European trading partners as payment for the abolition of duties imposed by the previous administration?

Almost unanimously, US economists argue that the Trump administration's trade policy has hurt both consumers and companies and has not achieved its stated goals in relations with China or other US trading partners. It remains a mystery why the current authorities continue a policy that has not been successful and is perceived as harmful even for American citizens who are forced to continue paying more. But how much can we talk about preserving unity in the Western world if trade and economic relations between countries separated by the Atlantic Ocean continue to be determined by the principles of protectionism? Probably only if such “unity” continues to be provided at the expense of the Europeans.

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