Britain to suspend tariffs on US goods as it seeks post-Brexit trade deal

Move marks a shift from EU policy as UK continues countdown to leaving the bloc

FILE PHOTO: Britain's International Trade Secretary Liz Truss arrives at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), ahead of a cabinet meeting to be held at the FCO, for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown in London, Britain July 21, 2020. Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Britain is to break ranks with the European Union and suspend retaliatory tariffs on the US amid a long-term row over subsidies to aerospace giants Airbus and Boeing.

The move is seen as an overture to the incoming administration of Joe Biden as the UK seeks a trade deal after Brexit.

The UK’s international trade department said it wanted to de-escalate trade tensions with the US so the two countries “can move forward to the next phase of their trading relationship” and end a dispute described as damaging industry either side of the Atlantic.

 

The move marks the start of a divergence from EU trade policy as the bloc is engaged in the multibillion dollar, tit-for-tat tariff battle with the US.

“As an independent trading nation once again, we finally have the ability to shape these tariffs to our interests and our economy, and to stand up for UK business,” said International Trade Secretary Liz Truss.

“Ultimately, we want to de-escalate the conflict and come to a negotiated settlement so we can deepen our trading relationship with the US and draw a line under all this.”

The suspension of the tariffs will come into effect from January 1, the day the UK frees itself from EU rules and regulations.

The UK’s trade department said: “The government reserves the right to impose tariffs at any point if satisfactory progress towards an agreeable settlement is not made.”

Although Britain formally left the EU in January this year, under the terms of an 11-month transitional exit arrangement it joined the EU in applying tariffs on $4 billion of US goods in November.

The measures were authorised by the World Trade Organisation following a 2019 decision by the body to approve US tariffs on $7.5bn of EU commodities.

However, tariffs have been rolled over on US steel and aluminium.

“We are protecting our steel industry against illegal and unfair tariffs – and will continue to do so – but are also showing the US we are serious about ending a dispute that benefits neither country,” Ms Truss said.