Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the UK’s International Trade Secretary, has warned the US that if harsh tariffs on UK steel exports are not withdrawn soon, the UK will escalate retaliatory measures.
She is in the United States to meet with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
“We had a really candid chat,” Ms Trevelyan said upon her return.
“The demands on us to employ countervailing measures if we can’t fix the situation are growing more intense,” she added.
Ms Trevelyan stated that she had invited Ms Raimondo to London in January for additional discussions on the matter. However, by that time, UK firms will be at a competitive disadvantage relative to EU firms.
Ms Trevelyan stated, “I am extremely keen that we address this with what is our closest partner in the US by a constructive elimination” of tariffs.
She stated that settling the conflict will help both workers and companies on both sides of the Atlantic.
When the UK was a member of the European Union, the Trump-era tariffs of 25% on steel exports (and 10% on aluminum exports) were applied.
The EU and the US have finally reached a deal under which they will be lifted on January 1st. The levies on UK producers, however, remain in place.
When questioned why more negotiations with the US weren’t taking place before January 1, Ms Trevelyan said the US wanted to talk to the EU first since it was a bigger trading partner.
If the problem is not handled swiftly, the UK may boost current retaliatory duties on US whisky and cosmetics.
It also has the potential to widen the scope of the retaliatory measures to include lobsters, electric motors, and orange juice.
President Joe Biden of the United States has so far declined to reverse the policies set in place by his predecessor.
After Vice President Joe Biden indicated such deals were not a priority while focusing on his domestic agenda, hopes for a post-Brexit US free trade pact have faded.
However, there have been some advances. In June, the UK and EU negotiated an agreement with the US to defer tariffs on aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing for five years.