THE UK government would find it difficult to get US attention to steel tariffs and is considering threats of levies on Harley Davidson and Bourbon in retaliation.
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan visited Washington last week with the aim of getting her counterparts to remove the national security tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2018.
However, Political reports that Trevelyan has not even left Washington with a timetable for the start of the steel negotiations or a response to his invitation to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to visit London next month and discuss the matter further. .
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In response, the UK is reportedly considering threatening retaliatory tariffs in an attempt to attract attention.
Before leaving for Washington, Trevelyan faced increasing pressure in the UK and said the government was ready to retaliate further.
She said: “We have always been clear that resolving this dispute is the right thing to do.
“This will benefit workers and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic and remove the need for the UK to impose retaliatory duties on US products.”
Biden administration hesitated to remove tariffs
There are already UK tariffs on Bourbon whiskey and Harley Davidson motorcycles that could be increased, but Politico reports that the UK may also consider targeting American wine.
However, there are concerns that the threats may work. In October, the EU and the US ended a similar dispute over steel and aluminum tariffs, with the EU removing tariffs on whiskey, motorboats and Harley-Davidsons , which they had imposed in retaliation.
The EU, however, was arguing as a trading bloc, while the UK is now one nation.
The row is likely to get tough next month, as the same tariffs Trevelyan desperately wants to lift will be relaxed for the EU, giving the bloc a competitive advantage over Britain.
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David Henig, co-founder of the UK Trade Forum, told Politico: “The idea that the UK is threatening the US with increased trade conflict is utter nonsense.
And in the US, there is skepticism that the UK would follow through on threats.
Post-Brexit commitments to reach a broader trade deal and the Biden administration’s desire to reconnect with the EU in the wake of Trump, DC Trade attorney Tan Albayrak said meant he “did not anticipate that the UK would go ahead with this threat of retaliatory tariff increases on the US”
Shadow’s International Trade Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said it was “extremely disappointing” that Trevelyan did not return from Washington with a deal.
He said “time is running out” and added that the conservative administration “must stop letting our steel communities down.”
Trevelyan visited the United States last week but failed on steel
The trade dispute has also become linked to the ongoing talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
President Biden warned the UK against triggering Article 16 of the protocol, which would allow the UK to unilaterally suspend post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland due to disagreements with Brussels over its setting implemented.
The Financial Times previously reported that a leaked note from Washington warned that the United States would not discuss the steel issue until Britain backed out of its threats to the protocol.
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Trevelyan has reportedly told his US counterparts that if tariffs on steel and aluminum are not lifted, the UK will be more likely to suspend Brexit trade rules.
Henig said the suggestion made no sense, as it would also amount to “threatening the EU, and collectively this represents two-thirds of our trade.”
He added: “The government needs a pretty urgent dose of reality. ”
The National has contacted the Commerce Department for comment.
In response, they provided a comment from Trevelyan after talks with the US Secretary of Commerce last week.
Trevelyan said: “We have always been clear that resolving this dispute is the right thing to do. This will benefit workers and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic and eliminate the need for the UK to impose retaliatory duties on US products.
“I invited Secretary Raimondo to London in January so that we can make progress on this issue, allowing the UK and US to focus on improving our thriving trade relationship.”