UK to drop EU-imposed tariffs on US goods after Brexit to resolve trade dispute

8 December 2020, 23:48

US-UK trade talks are expected to be boosted by the move
US-UK trade talks are expected to be boosted by the move. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The UK will drop tariffs imposed on US goods as part of an effort to resolve a transatlantic trade dispute over aerospace subsidies.

Donald Trump's administration hit the European Union with tariffs on £5.6 billion worth of goods in retaliation for state support given to Airbus, with products including Scotch whisky badly affected by the measures.

The EU responded with tariffs on £3 billion of US goods over subsidies given to Boeing but the UK will suspend those measures from January 1 - presenting it as an olive branch to the US.

The UK views a trade deal with the US as one of the major prizes on offer as a result of Brexit.

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International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: "As an independent trading nation once again, we finally have the ability to shape these tariffs to our interests and our economy, and to stand up for UK business.

"Ultimately, we want to de-escalate the conflict and come to a negotiated settlement so we can deepen our trading relationship with the US and draw a line under all this.

"We are protecting our steel industry against illegal and unfair tariffs - and will continue to do so - but are also showing the US we are serious about ending a dispute that benefits neither country."

The Government hopes the move will help bring the US towards a reasonable settlement over the Airbus-Boeing row and show that the UK is serious about reaching a negotiated outcome.

Ministers reserve the right to impose tariffs at any point if satisfactory progress towards an agreeable settlement is not made.

In a separate dispute, the UK will continue to apply retaliatory tariffs against US products over its decision to impose protectionist import taxes on EU steel and aluminium products.

The current tariffs imposed by the EU will roll over once the UK leaves the single market and customs union on January 1 but the Department for International Trade intends to tailor them to British interests.

Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Karen Betts said: "This is a very encouraging step by the UK government and we welcome it.

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"It shows the UK government's determination to de-escalate the damaging transatlantic trade disputes that have seen Scotch whisky exports to the US fall by over 30% in the past year.

"We now call on the US government to reciprocate by suspending the tariffs on UK goods stemming from the Airbus/Boeing dispute, so that industries in the UK and the US affected by this dispute can once again trade freely.

"The US government's removal of Airbus retaliation on Scotch could, in turn, justify the UK removing tariffs on US whiskey under the steel and aluminium dispute."