The beginning of Joe Biden’s term as the 46th president of the United States has not yet led to changes in American trade policy, Axel Eggert, director general of the European Steel Association (EUROFER), has underlined in a note. “President Biden has long been a supporter of trade liberalisation: as vice president he championed the TPP, and as a senator he voted for NAFTA and China’s entry into the WTO. However, noticeable by its absence is any change to the notably aggressive Trumpian trade policy in his initial package of measures,” the EUROFER official stated.
Mr. Eggert stressed that so far, “There has been no movement on supporting the appointment of a new WTO director general or revitalising the paralysed WTO appellate body. Early signals suggest that Biden will be hawkish on China. There has been no move so far to undo the damaging Section US 232 tariffs that, at least for the steel industry, were the most notable and damaging action of the Trump presidency.”
“Indeed, on his fourth day in office, President Biden signed an executive order further strengthening ‘Buy American’ regulations. For now, at least, it would seem that the motivation – if not the rhetoric – behind the ‘America First’ strategy of the previous administration has not (yet) changed,” Eggert continued.
According to EUROFER’s director general, “Continuation of the existing approach to trade is one which EU leaders should take note of… the EU should defend its interests: other regions are willing to take advantage of Europe’s promotion of ‘free’ trade without sharing its matching commitment to ‘fair’.”
EUROFER has therefore resumed its support for the need for an extension and strengthening of the current safeguards on steel, the fight against global overcapacity, the rapid implementation of trade defense instruments and an improvement in the circulation of raw materials (for example “avoiding scrap export leakage out of the EU”). Finally, Eggert said, it is important to ensure “that carbon leakage measures remain firmly in place to encourage other regions to follow Europe’s decarbonisation lead.”