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Altmaier sees a closer relationship with the United States of America |  Economy |  DW

Altmaier sees a closer relationship with the United States of America | Economy | DW

With the administration of US President Joe Biden, there is an opportunity to get close to each other again. This should be used, Federal Economy Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) said on the sidelines of talks with US government representatives in Washington.

After a meeting with the US government’s climate commissioner, John Kerry, Altmaier has already said that “far-reaching decisions” between the EU and the US on trade and climate policy can be expected in the second half of the year. With the new US administration, transatlantic relations are currently in a good phase.

Altmaier traveled to Washington on Wednesday. At the end of his trip, Altmaier would like to meet with US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Friday. Altmaier’s trip is also intended to prepare for a visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel in mid-July, who will then meet with President Joe Biden.

We want to meet again in the US in July: US President Joe Biden and Chancellor Angela Merkel

The end of the penalty fee is in sight

Altmaier believes a deal is possible in the year-long dispute over US punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum products from the European Union. “I think a solution can be found in the steel and aluminum sector by the end of the year,” Altmaier said Thursday after speaking with US Trade Representative Catherine Taye. This is ambitious, but possible. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to the United States in July may set the stage for that.

The European Union and the United States of America have suspended their long-running trade dispute over government subsidies to aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing for five years. This means that reciprocal punitive tariffs are initially suspended. Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had imposed punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Europe, among other things. The European Union is demanding a reversal of this move.

‘Stahlschwemme’ causes prices to drop

According to Altmaier, the agreement will not be easy because new jobs have been created in the United States with punitive tariffs. “This is why it remains true that we reiterate our argument that trade competition for the largest and highest punitive tariffs will generally have adverse effects.”

He is convinced that solutions can be found if the global overcapacity problem is also taken into account. The mainly China-driven “steel glut” is putting prices under pressure.

In response to US actions on steel and aluminum products, for example, the European Union imposed additional taxes on US products such as jeans, bourbon whiskey, motorcycles, and peanut butter.

Altmaier said he invited Trade Representative Tay to Berlin. Although there is no exact date yet, there is a good chance in October around the G7 meeting in London.

The long way to clean the air

As Peter Altmaier commented on Thursday’s infrastructure package, this is an important first step, “but it is not yet sufficient to make decarbonization efforts irreversible.” He knows that “there is a long, long way to go in this country as well to remove resistance to climate protection.”

dk / hb (dpa, afp, rtr)