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In late October, the United States and the European Union agreed to suspend the Section 232 tariffs during the G20 Heads of State and Government Summit,
issuing a joint statement detailing the breakthrough on the steel and aluminum duties.

The deal will end the retaliatory tariffs that the E.U. imposed on a range of American-made products, including boats. A statement from President Joe Biden and E.U. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, reads, in part:

“In a demonstration of renewed trust, and reflecting long-standing security and supply chain ties, the United States will not apply Section 232 duties and will allow duty-free importation of steel and aluminum from the E.U. at a historical-based volume, and the E.U. will suspend related tariffs on U.S. products.”

The agreement includes environmental standards for steel and aluminum production to address the challenges of climate change.

The agreement includes environmental standards for steel and aluminum production to address the challenges of climate change.

A framework to address the carbon-intensive process of producing steel and aluminum also was put in place. “The United States and the E.U. will create a technical working group charged with developing a common methodology and share relevant data for assessing the embedded emissions of traded steel and aluminum,” the statement reads. “The global arrangement reflects a joint commitment to use trade policy to confront the threats of climate change and global market distortions.”

Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo addressed the environmental standards, which aim to protect the environment and keep the market from being flooded with Chinese-produced aluminum and steel. “This deal creates a framework through which the U.S. and E.U. agree to take carbon intensity into account in future negotiations,” Raimondo said. “The U.S. and the E.U. both produce steel and aluminum that is ‘cleaner’ than what is produced in much of the world. The lack of environmental standards in places like China is part of what drives down their costs, and it’s a major contributor to climate change. Today’s deal begins to address those challenges.”

The marine industry celebrated the news. Earlier this year, the National Marine Manufacturers Association estimated that U.S. boatbuilders, with the reduction of imports, have seen an estimated loss of more than $400 million in sales since the tariffs were implemented in 2018.

“This resolution allows American companies to reclaim billions in lost and future E.U. market share caused by the disastrous 25 percent tariffs on American-made boats exported to the E.U.,” NMMA president Frank Hugelmeyer said in a statement. “America’s boatbuilders were collateral damage of this tit-for-tat trade conflict for more than three years, resulting in a 50 percent reduction in exports to our industry’s second largest international market and the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.”

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Correct Craft CEO Bill Yeargin praised NMMA and Biden administration. “The trade war of the last few years has had a significant negative impact on the boating industry,” Yeargin told Soundings Trade Only. “The increased tariffs on imported parts, combined with the retaliatory tariffs put on boats by both Canada and the E.U., has materially cost our industry. Across our Correct Craft companies, the negative impact of the trade war has been in the millions annually. The relief of the E.U. retaliatory tariffs is a very big deal.

“I applaud the NMMA team for working hard to get this issue both visibility and resolution … [and] the Biden Administration for making the removal of these retaliatory tariffs an important issue in their negotiations with the E.U.,” Yeargin added.

“We were very pleased to hear the news that the E.U. and U.S. came to an agreement on the ongoing Section 232 aluminum trade dispute,” Brunswick Corp. CEO David Foulkes told Soundings Trade Only. “The news will benefit our industry in the long run and is great for the boating community. We will continue to support and advocate for issues that directly impact our global consumers and help grow the marine industry.” 

This article was originally published in the December 2021 issue.

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