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The UK is in talks with the Trump administration to conclude a ‘mini deal’ to reduce tariffs before president Trump leaves office in January, according to media reports today (Thursday 17 December).

In a rare media interview, broadcast this morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said that it was “extremely likely that we’ll have an FTA with the UK before long”.

Whisky tariff

The UK hopes that tariffs will be reduced on exports to the US of Scotch whisky and cashmere in particular. The Independent reports that the government hopes to broker a full trade agreement with incoming president Joe Biden, with the mini-deal easing trade before then.

However, a decision by the UK to unilaterally break with the EU in the ongoing Boeing-Airbus dispute, and not impose tariffs on US goods, is not being regarded as a concession by the US.

Instead, the US is pressing the UK to make concessions on the separate EU dispute over steel and aluminium, where US bourbon was among products upon which European tariffs were levied.

UK-US deal for smooth customs 

Separately, the UK yesterday announced a deal with the US which will ensure the smooth continuation of customs cooperation post-Brexit. 

The UK and US will maintain current relations between customs authorities including the sharing of data and joint efforts to tackle fraud.