The United States and the United Kingdom have finally reached an agreement on steel tariffs.
Both countries’ trade officials stated that they were committed to a “expedited outcome” that would help metals manufacturers in both markets.
The trade dispute has long been a source of friction between the two allies.
Last year, the United States reached an agreement to eliminate border taxes on European metal shipments.
Under Trump’s administration, the United States imposed a 25% duty on foreign steel and a 15% tax on foreign aluminum, sparking outrage among allies, including the United Kingdom, which retaliated by imposing tariffs on some US goods, including whiskey.
The United States has since lifted some of the measures, which were supported by many steel manufacturers in the country.
Under President Joe Biden’s leadership, it has reached an agreement with Europe and has begun talks with Japan on the issue.
However, British exporters are still subject to border taxes.
As a result, one UK steel exporter has already announced that it will shift production to Spain. United Cast Bar Limited told the BBC that it was unlikely to return production to the UK once it had been relocated unless an agreement with the US was reached quickly.
The announcement came after a virtual meeting between UK Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan, US Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo, and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
Ms Trevelyan described the meeting on Wednesday as “productive,” adding that “we want a resolution as soon as possible that supports UK businesses and further strengthens our trading relationship.”
The steel lobby in the United Kingdom applauded the news. It claimed that existing tariffs had reduced UK exports by nearly half.
“That a resolution appears to be in sight a few weeks into 2022 is hugely welcome news to the steel sector and steelworkers across the UK,” UK Steel said.
“Given the competitive disadvantage created by the EU deal, it is critical that these talks conclude as soon as possible to limit any further damage to UK producers.”
The industry body went on to say that it hoped the UK would be able to get a better deal with the US than the European Union because it would “fully utilize its new independent trade powers.”
American whiskey producers, whose exports to the UK have dropped by more than half since retaliatory tariffs went into effect in 2018, also expressed optimism that a deal would be reached soon.
They now have something to work on thanks to the joint statement. It blames China for “largely” global excess capacity in the steel and aluminum industries, and says the resulting distortion is a problem for companies and workers in both the UK and the US.
Because neither side wants their trade dispute to worsen, blaming a rival third party is one option.
Steel companies in the United Kingdom are also desperate to have the 25% tariffs on their exports removed as soon as possible, as they are at a significant competitive disadvantage in comparison to their EU counterparts.