WASHINGTON is poised to abandon punitive tariffs on British steel today as ministers pin their hopes on striking a trade deal before the next election.
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan declared last night that there had ‘definitely’ been a change of approach from Joe Biden, who put talks on the backburner when he entered the White House.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, she said that after having no appetite for a deal in January 2021, his administration had ‘leaned in’ to the idea.
Mrs Trevelyan, who is on a two-day visit to Baltimore, believes formal negotiations on an agreement may begin by the end of this year, with the expectation that they could be completed within 18 months.
In a boost for trade between the two countries, the US is expected to agree to remove tariffs on British steel and aluminium exports that have been in place since 2018.
In return, the UK will drop retaliatory tariffs on American brands such as Harley-Davidson. The trade dispute has been a longstanding thorn in relations between the two allies.
Under Donald Trump, the US imposed a 25 per cent duty on foreign steel and 10 per cent tax on foreign aluminium.
Washington agreed to roll back tariffs on such imports from the EU last year.
Mrs Trevelyan said she had ‘kicked off’ and that the US had listened.
She added: ‘I came over just before Christmas and pointed out that it was not OK for them to still be hanging over us.’
The Trade Secretary is holding meetings with her US counterparts – trade representative Katherine Tai and commerce secretary Gina Raimondo – as part of a special conference being held in Baltimore on the future of Atlantic trade.
She described the gathering as a fantastic next step – getting into the ‘nitty gritty’ of what is important to both sides before beginning formal negotiations.
Mrs Trevelyan said there was now a ‘really positive energy’ around the talks and that the crisis over Russia’s war in Ukraine had highlighted the closeness of the two sides.
‘We have worked hand in glove with the US in the last month, looking at sanctions. So I’m very optimistic,’ she added.