The UK and USA have finally resolved their long-running dispute over steel and aluminium tariffs.
The deal, struck after the UK’s international trade minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, met her counterpart, the US commerce secretary, Gina Raimondo, in the US this week.
In a joint statement, Raimondo and the US trade representative Katherine Tai said the deal, which takes effect on 1 June this year, would protect steel and aluminium companies – and their workers – in both countries.
British steel and aluminium companies that export to the US have faced tariffs of 25 per cent and 10 per cent respectively on their goods since 2018, when they were brought in by former president Donald Trump.
Retaliatory measure suspended
The UK retaliated with equivalent levies on prominent American products such as Levi’s jeans, bourbon whiskey and Harley Davidson motorbikes, but will now suspend the retaliatory measure.
The deal is a major boost for the steel and aluminium sectors, which support the jobs of over 80,000 people across the UK. The changes will take effect on 1 June 2022.
Both sides have also agreed the move clears the way for both countries to focus on the next steps for the UK-US trade relationship.
Under the new deal, Britain will receive a duty-free import quota of more than 500,000 tonnes of steel “melted and poured” in the country annually, with higher volumes subject to the 25 per cent tariff.
Commenting in The Guardian newspaper, Alasdair McDiarmid, operations director for the steelworkers’ union Community, said: “The news the US steel tariffs are being lifted is welcome, though we need to understand the full detail of the agreement.
“To protect jobs our steelmakers must compete on a level playing field, and it is vital the UK does not suffer a further competitive disadvantage with EU producers.”
High-level of tariff-free access
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “This announcement is good news for our steel and aluminium industries who have been unfairly hit by these tariffs, and the 80,000 people employed across the sector. It means our manufacturers can now enjoy a high level of tariff-free access to the US market once again.”
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