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US Withdraws Tariff On UK-Steel Imposed During Trump Presidency


US Withdraws Tariff On UK-Steel Imposed During Trump Presidency
The United States has agreed to reduce Trump-era tariffs on steel and aluminium shipments to the United Kingdom, eliminating a point of contention between the allies.
The action comes after previous agreements with the European Union and Japan over the divisive taxes imposed by former President Donald Trump in the name of national security in 2018.
In exchange, the UK will remove additional tariffs on American goods such as bourbon and Levi's denim.
The decision was well received by business groups.
Under the terms of the agreement, the United States will replace its 25 per cent steel tariffs with a quota system.
The scheme will allow duty-free metal imports into the country up to a set threshold - the quota - before levies are reintroduced.
The agreement is set to come into force from June 1.
The deal had removed a "very frustrating irritant", said International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, and called it a "good news for the steel and aluminium sectors, which support the jobs of over 80,000 people across the UK".
"It means our manufacturers can now enjoy a high level of tariff-free access to the US market once again," she said.
"Hopefully we can now move forward and focus on deepening our thriving trading relationship with the US."
The postponement of the UK retaliatory tariffs, which affected around $500 million (£377 million) in yearly commerce, was also welcomed by US authorities.
"The historical deal announced today delivers on President Biden's vision to repair relationships with our allies while also helping to ensure the long-term viability of our steel and aluminium industries," said Ambassador Katherine Tai.
However, in an interview with the BBC, Tai, the chief US trade negotiator, refused to say when or if formal talks on a free trade agreement would begin.
"I think the issue is what kind of collaboration is going to be fit for the purpose of addressing the challenges that we have today," she said. "I'm not going to exclude any options."
According to economist Chad Bown, senior scholar at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the Biden administration has prioritised domestic interests over trade.
While things could change as the US seeks closer ties with allies in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, he said there's no sign of it yet.
"The US administration has not made any signs that they want to do trade agreements with anybody anytime soon," he said. "That would be a big change."
Former President Donald Trump made trade a defining area of focus, using tariffs as negotiating chips in diplomacy. The Biden administration's low priority for trade problems indicates a significant reversal from Trump's approach.
When he imposed a 25 per cent tax on foreign steel exports and a 15% tax on foreign aluminium, he sparked a firestorm of protest in the United States and overseas, emphasising the need to preserve America's manufacturing base and dismissing fears that tariffs would raise costs.
After allies, notably the United Kingdom, slapped tariffs on US items like Harley-Davidson motorbikes in response, Trump backed off on the tariffs for several countries, including Canada, instead opting for quotas.
Later, US Vice President Joe Biden struck similar agreements with the European Union and Japan.
The policy has received acclaim in the United States, notably from organisations such as the United Steel Workers, for addressing the concerns of allies while also protecting US industry.
Maintaining support from steelworkers is critical for Biden, who has several steel facilities in key electoral states.
The union hailed the new agreement on Tuesday for provisions such as mandated annual audits of British Steel, which has a Chinese parent company, that it claimed would help protect against unjustly subsidised steel production.
UK Steel, a business lobbying group, applauded the agreement, saying it will "be felt by steel firms and their people right throughout the UK and is enormously welcome."