US ends tariffs on British steel in boost to domestic industry
Tariffs on UK steel-makers who export to the US market have been partially lifted following a new agreement.
In 2018, former US President Donald Trump imposed 25 per cent tariffs on UK steel and 10 per cent on aluminium in order to protect domestic producers.
But international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has now announced that the UK has secured a resolution with the US to end the tariffs following two months of talks.
Under the agreement, there will be quotas for tariff-free imports of the two metals.
The announcement is good news for the steel and aluminium sectors, which support the jobs of over 80,000 people across the UK. The changes will take effect at the beginning of June.
In response the UK will suspend rebalancing measures on US products including whiskey, blue jeans and motorcycles.
Both sides have also agreed to work closely to address the wider issue of global steel excess capacity and market-distorting practices.
China, which has approximately 10 times the steelmaking capacity of the US, has been accused of dumping cheap steel on the global market in order to cripple competitors.
“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.
“We have been clear from the start that we would only accept a solution that works for the UK and is in the best interests of both our steel and aluminium industries, and this bespoke agreement does just that.”
Gareth Stace, the director general of UK Steel, welcomed the announcement after admitting that the sector would be “hit hard” when the tariffs were originally introduced in 2018.
“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,” he said.
The Labour Party said the move was “long overdue”. “UK steel and aluminium manufacturers have had to face four years of punitive tariffs initially imposed by president Trump,” said shadow international trade secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds.
“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 tariffs have been estimated to have cost the UK steel sector more than £60m per year.
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