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UK and US strike trade deal to end tariffs on British steel

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·Finance Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·3 min read
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tariffs FILE - In this May 9, 2019, file photo, steel rods produced at the Gerdau Ameristeel mill in St. Paul, Minn., await shipment. In a deal announced Tuesday, March 22, 2022, the United States has agreed to lift tariffs on British steel and aluminum, mending a rift between allies that dates back to the Trump administration. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)
US rolls back Trump-era tariffs on UK steel. Photo:Jim Mone/AP

The UK has struck a deal with the US to cut tariffs on British steel and aluminium exports imposed by former president Donald Trump.

The agreement will allow the UK to ship steel and aluminium products to the US without levies imposed, while the UK will lift levies on American whisky, motorcycles, and tobacco.

The move follows previous deals with the European Union and Japan over the controversial taxes, which were imposed by former president Donald Trump in 2018 in what the claimed to be a matter of national security.

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British steel and aluminium companies that export to the US have faced tariffs of 25% and 10% respectively on their goods since 2018.

The UK retaliated with equivalent levies on prominent American products such as Levi’s jeans, bourbon whisky and Harley Davidson motorbikes.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) said the US had announced an “expansive removal” of section 232 tariffs, with the changes to take effect on June 1, 2022.

Under the deal, the UK will receive a duty-free import quota of more than 500,000 tonnes of steel “melted and poured” in the country annually, with higher volumes subject to the 25% tariff. The deal also set tariff-free quotas for several types of aluminium.

The deal also requires any UK steel company owned by a Chinese entity to audit their financial records to assess possible influence from China and share the results with the US.

Chinese company Jingye Group acquired British Steel, the UK’s second-largest steelmaker, in late 2019.

In a statement, UK’s international trade minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, and the US commerce secretary, Gina Raimondo, said the deal would protect steel and aluminium companies and their workers in both countries.

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“Today’s announcement is good news for our steel and aluminium industries who have been unfairly hit by these tariffs, and the 80,000 people employed across the sector. It means our manufacturers can now enjoy a high level of tariff-free access to the US market once again,” Trevelyan said.

“Since taking office, president Biden has made it a top priority to rebuild our relationships with our allies and partners around the world as we work to counter China’s unfair trade practices and ensure that America is able to compete globally in the 21st century,” Raimondo added.

Business lobby UK Steel also praised the deal, saying it would be "felt by steel companies and their employees right across the UK and is immensely welcome".

William Bain, head of trade policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: “The ending of the section 232 tariffs on UK steel product exports to the US in June is extremely welcome as businesses and consumers across the globe face unprecedented rises in trade and living costs.

“People in the UK will also benefit from the ending of our rebalancing measures on products like US jeans too.

Watch: What does a Joe Biden presidency in the US mean for the global economy?

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