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U.S. trade chief, UK trade minister discuss steel and aluminum sectors -USTR

U.S. trade chief, UK trade minister discuss steel and aluminum sectors -USTR 1

By Andrea Shalal and Ismail Shakil

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top U.S. trade negotiator Katherine Tai emphasized Washington’s focus on addressing excess capacity in the steel and aluminum sectors from “non-market” economies during a meeting with UK trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan on Tuesday, her office said.

Tai and Trevelyan underscored the “special relationship” between the two countries and agreed to stay in close touch on trade issues, but stopped short of announcing any formal talks on bringing Britain into a steel trade deal signed by the United States and the European Union in October.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said Tai highlighted the ongoing efforts to work together and with other partners to address the shared challenges posed by non-market policies and practices, including those of China.

The pair also agreed to continue working together on important World Trade Organization (WTO) topics in light of the postponement of the WTO ministerial meeting scheduled for last week, including intellectual property issues, the COVID-19 pandemic and fisheries subsidies.

“The Ambassador emphasized the United States’ commitment to working with like-minded partners to address non-market excess capacity in the steel and aluminum sectors, ensure the industry’s long-term viability, and addressing the carbon intensity of steel and aluminum production,” USTR said.

USTR last month launched talks with Japan about potentially joining the steel and aluminum agreement, which maintains U.S. “Section 232” tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, while allowing “limited volumes” of EU-produced metals into the United States duty free.

Tai and Trevelyan also agreed to stay in touch on global supply chains and addressing climate change, the statement added.

Britain is also seeking a full free-trade agreement, but that remains a distant prospect since President Joe Biden has made clear that such a deal is not a priority.

Instead, Britain is now pursuing smaller agreements to remove specific trade barriers, solve long-running trade disputes, and work with individual U.S. states, industry sources said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal in Washington; writing by Ismail Shakil; editing by Tim Ahmann and Richard Pullin)

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