Talks to ease tariffs on British exports of steel and aluminium to the US are expected to be announced in the coming days.
International trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan is to hold a virtual meeting today (19 January) with US commerce secretary Gina Raimondo with a view to launching formal talks.
According to Reuters, the talks would aim to resolve the dispute over Trump-era tariffs of 25% on UK steel exports and 10% on aluminium.
The UK is eager to get a steel deal with the US after the White House brokered a deal with the EU in October to ease similar tariffs. This came into effect on 1 January leaving UK producers disadvantaged.
US trade representative Katherine Tai said last week that while the issue of continuing tariffs on UK steel was “very much on our minds” talks to lift them would only come about “when the time is right”.
The two sides are not expected to announce a specific timeline for the talks, nor a specific deadline for reaching an agreement, according to Bloomberg.
Britain adopted the EU’s retaliatory tariffs on Donald Trump’s 2018 tariffs by targeting products such as US whiskey, motorcycles, blue jeans, and tobacco.
The EU dropped these retaliatory tariffs as part of its deal with the US which lifted tariffs on about four million tons of EU steel. Britain was not part of the deal as it had by this time left the bloc.
The UK is seeking a wider trade deal with the US, but this is unlikely to happen before US midterm elections in November, Bloomberg reports.
President Joe Biden is keeping an eye on the Northern Ireland protocol talks and wants to assurances that the UK will respect the Good Friday Agreement before the moving forward with talks for a trade pact with Britain.