Negotiators for the European Economic Community and the Reagan administration yesterday tentatively agreed to limit European steel exports in nearly a dozen categories between October and the end of 1985, clearing the way for resolution of an extended trade dispute.
Sources said the agreement covers 11 carbon and stainless steel products, but does not set limits for shipments of foreign pipe and tube products for the oil industry, the stickiest issue in the talks.
The agreement was to be presented to U.S. steel industry leaders last night by Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige. An announcement on an agreement is expected today, but it cannot take effect until approved by the U.S. industry, which has filed trade complaints against European competitors.
According to the agreement, both sides will continue negotiations in mid-September on limiting European exports to the U.S. market of steel pipe and tube products, so-called oil country goods that the Europeans didn't want included in any agreement because that category accounts for about 20 percent of their exports.
Baldrige is scheduled to meet again with EEC officials at 9 a.m. this morning to further discuss the arrangement and the response from the U.S. industry, sources said. It could not be learned by how much steel imports would be cut.
At a breakfast meeting with reporters yesterday, an unusually buoyant Baldrige said the talks had made "considerable progress" and that he hoped by Friday "to reach a conclusion both sides could bring back to our industries." Baldrige also said "we still have some points that we're not settled on," but he wouldn't say what those points were.
"What the EEC and the U.S. government are trying to arrive at is an arrangement both governments feel is appropriate to bring back to their constituencies," Baldrige said.
The dispute developed when seven of the nation's largest steel companies filed complaints against seven EEC countries, South Africa, Brazil, Romania and Spain charging that they either were unfairly subsidized by their governments or dumped--that is, illegally sold here at prices below what it would sell in home markets.