UK and US agree deal to partially end tariffs on British steel and aluminium

Labour called the move long overdue, saying ministers have ‘dithered and delayed’.

22 March 2022

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

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

In response the UK will suspend rebalancing measures on US products including whiskey, blue jeans and motorcycles, the department said.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the announcement was “good news for our steel and aluminium industries”, which she claimed had been “unfairly hit” by the tariffs.

“It means our manufacturers can now enjoy a high level of tariff-free access to the US market once again,” she said.

But Labour said the move was “long overdue”.

Shadow international trade secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “UK steel and aluminium manufacturers have had to face four years of punitive tariffs initially imposed by president (Donald) Trump.

“Ministers have dithered and delayed, so finally getting these tariffs lifted is a welcome relief. The Government now needs to make sure that this agreement comes into effect at the earliest opportunity.

“In their 2019 manifesto, the Conservatives promised a US trade deal by the end of 2022. Ministers need to get moving to secure a stable long-term trading arrangement with the US, and keep their promise to the public.”

The 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminium was imposed by the Trump administration during a dispute with the European Union in 2018.

Ms Trevelyan previously said the tariffs had cost the industry more than £60 million per year, and expressed her hopes for swift progress to resolve the matter.

The solution agreed by the UK and US will involve replacing section 232 tariffs on certain exports of steel and aluminium with tariff rate quotas.

Gareth Stace, director general of UK Steel, said: “I would like to congratulate the Government on behalf of the entire steel sector for its success in these hard-fought negotiations which have resulted in a hugely positive outcome for UK steelmakers.

“This deal is the culmination of months of dedicated work from Anne-Marie Trevelyan and her department, removing long-standing export barriers and opening up access to the important and high-value US steel market.

“The benefits of this deal will be felt by steel companies and their employees right across the UK and is immensely welcome.”

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