– US President Biden draws a line under the tariff contradictions instigated by his predecessor. In Great Britain, this raises expectations for an earlier trade agreement. But it may take time.
The U.S. and Great Britain have settled a dispute over a special tariff on steel and aluminum imports, which was brought under former President Donald Trump.
According to the agreement, which was delivered in Washington on Tuesday, Britain will allow duty-free imports of certain quantities of steel and aluminum into the US from June. The duty free trade volume should approximately correspond to the years 2018 and 2019, when there were no punitive tariffs. Great Britain will therefore avoid additional import fees for US products valued at around US $ 500 million (approximately 450 million euros). This includes whiskey, jeans and motorcycles.
The agreement is modeled on an agreement reached between the government of US President Joe Biden and the European Union at the end of last year. A similar agreement with Japan was announced in February.
Trump justified 25 percent of the tariffs, which also affected the US’s closest allies, such as Japan and Europeans, with “interests in national security.” When he came to power a year ago, Democrat Biden promised to sever ties with US allies.
Good news for Britain
The UK government hailed the development as “good news” for the steel and aluminum sectors, which employ more than 80,000 people in the UK. Opposition groups called for a free trade agreement with the United States. “The Conservative Party has pledged in 2019 to conclude a trade agreement with the US by the end of 2022,” said Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labor leader in charge of international trade. Now the government must keep this promise.
In an interview with the BBC, Catherine Thai, the U.S. cabinet’s trade representative, said she did not want to compromise on the fact that a free trade agreement is now the next step. It is necessary to examine what kind of cooperation is best suited to the current challenges. Chad Bowen, an economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, also expressed skepticism: “The U.S. government has given no indication that it intends to enter into trade agreements with anyone in the near future,” he told the BBC. “That would be a big change.”
After leaving the European Union, the hope of many Brexit supporters was the conclusion of lucrative trade agreements free from EU restrictions – especially with the USA. Recently, however, such an agreement was far from over. The unresolved Brexit problems in the British province of Northern Ireland created further obstacles along the way. The fate of this region is close to the heart of US President Joe Biden with Irish roots. After the Brexit, he repeatedly criticized London’s role in the dispute with the European Union over special rules for Northern Ireland. None of these are final.
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