UK steelmakers fear being 'left behind' after EU and US sign deal to end Trump-era tariffs

Mon 1 Nov 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News


The UK has been “left behind” according to its steel makers, after the US settled its trade war with the EU over steel and aluminium tariffs.

Trade body UK Steel said a deal for British producers was “sorely needed” to alleviate the effect of Trump-era tariffs that have nearly halved British steel exports to the US.

The UK is not included in the EU’s deal as it is no longer part of the bloc, but it is pursuing its own negotiations with the US.

UK disadvantage

Gareth Stace, director general of UK Steel, told the BBC that British steel producers now had a competitive disadvantage compared to the EU in its second largest market.

“Whilst it is promising to see the US take steps to open up access to its steel markets again, there is significant concern that UK producers have been left behind in this process and continue to wait for their own deal,” he said.

According to the Mail, the deal eliminates Europe’s retaliatory tariffs against US products such as whiskey and Harley-Davidson motorcycles that were set to double from today.

Cleaner steel

The deal will also enable the US and EU to focus jointly on China’s ‘dirty steel’ exports, reports the FT.

Speaking at the G20 meeting at the weekend, US president Biden and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the deal will support sustainable steel and aluminium to reduce overcapacity and encourage greener production in one of the most carbon intensive industries.


The UK launched a public consultation in May to decide whether continuing to apply retaliatory tariffs on US steel was in the best interests of the UK.

The Independent reports that the results of the consultation will be published shortly but that “rebalancing measures” to US tariffs introduced under Donald Trump will remain.

Ongoing dialogue

In a statement, the US Department of Commerce said: “The United States and the United Kingdom are consulting closely on bilateral and multilateral issues related to steel and aluminum.”

The DIT welcomed the statement and the administration’s efforts to “deescalate” the issue.

Cars and whiskey

Although the EU has settled its dispute over steel, another looms over electric vehicles, reports Reuters.

Ambassadors from the EU, Germany, Canada, Japan, Mexico, France, South Korea, Italy and other countries wrote to US lawmakers saying a proposed US electric vehicle tax credit violates international trade rules.

Congress is considering a new $12,500 tax credit that would be eligible only for US built vehicles after 2027.


US bourbon makers have also demanded that the UK end its 25% tariff on imported American whiskeys, the Daily Mail reports.

The Distilled Spirits Council of United States says the tariffs caused a drop of Bourbon imports into the UK of 53%.