The United Kingdom is on the verge of agreeing to an agreement with the United States to remove tariffs on British steel exports, ending months of tensions over a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement.
The UK’s international trade minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, is scheduled to meet with her counterpart, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raymondo, in Baltimore, Maryland, on Tuesday evening to discuss a possible deal.
British steel and aluminum companies that export to the United States have faced tariffs of 25% and 10%, respectively, on their products since 2018 when they were brought in by then-President Donald Trump. The UK has retaliated with equivalent tariffs on prominent American products such as Lewis jeans, bourbon whiskey and Harley Davidson motorbikes.
The so-called U.S. Article 232 tariffs were introduced under “national security” concerns and were part of Trump’s larger efforts to put pressure on trading partners.
The UK steel industry responded with concern when the United States agreed to an agreement with the European Union to remove Trump-era tariffs on European steel by the end of 2021, putting British businesses at a disadvantage for months.
The ministers are hopeful that the tariff dispute will be resolved soon, according to an official source. Travelian told the Daily Mail on Monday that he hoped the deal would pave the way for a broader trade deal before the next election, as the government wants to show some benefits from Brexit.
A spokesman for the Department of International Trade said: “Since the announcement of the start of formal talks in January, we have made good progress towards agreeing on a resolution on tariffs on steel and aluminum.
“Our goal is for the United States to immediately lift Article 232 tariffs and pave the way for a prosperous trade relationship.”
Alasdair McDermide, director of operations for the Steelworkers Union community, said: “The news of the withdrawal of US steel tariffs is welcome, although we need to understand the full details of the agreement.
“In order to secure jobs, our steelmakers must compete in an equal playing field and it is vital that the UK does not face any more competitive difficulties with EU producers. The EU secured its agreement with the United States in October, so the UK-US agreement has a long way to go and we need to implement it without delay to prevent further damage to our industry. “
Steel companies and other heavy-duty industrial users with huge amounts of energy have also repeatedly called for help on energy prices, which have been a problem even before the recent rise in global fuel prices – worsened by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine – which threatens to hit the world. Economic recovery from the coronavirus epidemic.
However, the Treasury and Chancellor, Sage Sunak, have previously resisted calls for more support for the industry. In a spring statement on Wednesday, Sunak said it was preparing to take steps to address the cost of living for consumers, which would likely limit the government’s appetite for large-scale support for the industry.
McDairmid said: “Britain’s steel industry is under tremendous pressure, and steel workers are looking to the Chancellor to take action to reduce the cost of our impossible electricity.”