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Small businesses on both sides of the Atlantic are calling on their governments to facilitate easier trade between the UK and US.

A report by the British-American Business (BAB) trade association, featured on yesterday (26 January), is calling for trade barriers to be removed. 

Action points

Produced after a series of virtual roundtables with the Department for International Trade, the ‘Making a Difference’ report collates the views of 60 UK SMEs about the challenges they face when trading with the US.

The BAB concluded that there are three priority areas the government should look at: 

1. Reducing barriers

SMEs reported tariffs and customs requirement as significant barriers to trade.

Brompton Bicycles revealed how it pays inflated duties when selling into the US as its small-wheeled bikes attract tariffs aimed at children’s bikes.

2. Resolve trade disputes and enable travel 

Companies in completely unrelated sectors are being affected by tit-for-tat tariffs related to the Airbus-Boeing dispute.

Firms also suggested easier visa applications for personnel travelling between the UK and US for business purposes.

3. Boost on-the-ground support 

A lack of advice and support for SMEs was also raised as an inhibitor of trade.

Firms mentioned legal advice, tax issues, varied state-level regulations and opening bank accounts as areas where they needed more help.

Drinks industry plea

Meanwhile, trade bodies in Europe and the US have repeated their call for duties imposed as part of the Airbus-Boeing tariff dispute to be scrapped, Spirits Business reports

A group representing 72 associations has written to president Biden and the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen calling for a suspension of tariffs that will “provide an economic stimulus at a time when it is needed most”.


The Scotch whisky industry has urged international trade minister Liz Truss to press for the 25% tariff on Scotch to be dropped in her department’s negotiations with the US, The Times reports.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scottish Whisky Association, urged Truss to attend any meeting with “a realistic position” on future aerospace subsidies. Otherwise, she warned, some distillers would be “pushed out of business”.

The UK is keen to finalise a free trade deal with the US, and Boris Johnson used his first call with Joe Biden to discuss its benefits.