The International Trade Secretary is meeting her American counterpart today – boosting hopes the four-year-old duties could finally be scrapped
Hopes are growing the White House could ax tariffs on British steel.
Boris Johnson is “optimistic” the US will finally abolish duties, his spokesman said today.
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan is meeting US Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo, amid claims the Americans are poised to scrap the 25% tariffs.
Ten percent tariffs apply to UK aluminum exports.
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Ms Trevelyan claimed yesterday there had “definitely” been a change in approach from President Joe Biden’s administration, prompting suggestions the tariffs could be axed within days.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “We are working at pace to agree to a solution to resolve the Section 232 tariffs.
“The International Trade Secretary has a meeting with the US Commerce Secretary later today where this issue will be discussed, and we are optimistic that a solution could be reached soon.
“Until a deal is reached that works for the UK and is in the interests of our steel and aluminum industry, we will continue to apply rebalancing measures on US products.”
Shadow International Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the reports “give hope to the many steel and aluminum manufacturers here in the UK that have faced four years of punitive tariffs”.
He added: “We now need a firm date for the tariffs to be lifted – as soon as possible – so that steel and aluminum manufacturers can get on with exporting without being at a disadvantage.
“The Conservatives promised the British people a comprehensive free trade deal with the US before the end of this year.
“Long-term certainty about trading arrangements is crucial to prevent such tariffs being imposed again.”
US tariffs were first introduced for EU steel – including from the UK – in 2018 on national security grounds under Section 232 of the 1962 US Trade Expansion Act by then President Donald Trump.
The US axed duties on steel from the EU on January 1, but Brexit meant the UK was carved out of the deal and 25% tariffs are still slapped on British-made steel crossing the Atlantic.
The Americans agreed earlier this year to open talks aimed at abolishing the duties.
But experts believe President Joe Biden may be resisting cutting tariffs because of the ongoing deadlock over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Community steelworkers’ union operations director Alasdair McDiarmid said the suggestion the tariffs “are being lifted is welcome”, adding: “We look forward to seeing the detail of the agreement.
“The EU secured their deal with the US back in October, so a deal for the UK is well overdue, and it must be implemented without delay to prevent further damage to our steel industry. Britain’s steel industry is under huge pressure.”
Labor MP Stephen Kinnock, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Steel, said: “News that America’s Section 232 tariffs are set to be lifted on UK imports will come not a moment too soon for a British steel industry that has been hit badly by the tariffs over the past four years – particularly as Japan and the EU secured exemptions to these tariffs months ago.”
The Mirror has been campaigning to Save Our Steel since 2015.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.