International trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan has signalled that the UK is set to strike a deal with the White House for the US to drop tariffs on British steel and aluminium.
She also said that the US approach to the UK trade relationship has “definitely” changed, noting that President Joe Biden’s team has “leaned in” to the idea of wider trade talks.
Trevelyan, who is in Baltimore for the first series of ‘transatlantic dialogue’ trade talks, told the Sun that formal negotiations for a “bigger and chunkier” free trade agreement could begin by the end of the year and be completed within 18 months.
The Daily Mail also reports that the US is expected to drop the 25% tariffs on British steel and 10% on aluminium, with the UK reciprocating on its tariffs on American goods such as Harley-Davidson motorbikes.
The EU reached a similar deal with the US on exports of the metals last year, which came into force on 1 January.
The metal tariffs were originally levied by President Trump in 2018 and were maintained by the Biden administration.
The White House team has used the tariffs as leverage to ensure the UK implements the Northern Ireland Protocol, as the US is a guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement.
According to Trevelyan, the crisis in Ukraine has helped galvanise the relationship between the UK and UK.
“We have worked hand in glove with the US in the last month, looking at sanctions,” she said.
“Team Biden have leaned in and want to get going on getting our trade teams talking more fully about the issues that are important to both of us,” she added.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the allies had resolved disputes over aircraft subsidies and digital services taxes in the past year and were now working together closely to punish Russia for the invasion of Ukraine.
“In the battle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are rising to the moment and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security, so it’s never been more important for us to work to strengthen our economic ties with our closest allies, like the United Kingdom,” she said.
German finance minister Christian Lindner recently called for the EU to press on with its own trade deal with the US, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Britain will continue its ‘twin track’ approach of seeking a broad trade deal with the US while pursuing state level deals at the same time.
According to the Sun, the first mini trade US deals are expected to be agreed “within months”, with Indiana, Oklahoma and North & South Carolina at the front of the queue.
The UK and US are currently undergoing two days of ‘dialogue’ meetings aimed at strengthening trade ties, reports Reuters.
The talks are expected to cover collaboration on easing supply-chain congestion, decarbonising each country’s economy, digital trade, supporting domestic workforces and labour rights.