The UK’s international trade secretary will push the White House to scrap controversial tariffs on UK steel and aluminium during a three-day trip this week.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan will leave for the US today and meet with her American counterpart Katherine Tai and US commerce secretary Gina Raimondo.
A Department for International Trade spokesperson said Trevelyan would “push for a resolution to section 232 steel and aluminium tariffs to support British industry” in her meetings.
The US dropped the Donald Trump-era tariffs on EU steel and aluminium in October, however they remain in place for UK exports.
The Financial Times reported last week that Biden had not taken them off UK exports due to Boris Johnson’s aggressive negotiating position during talks with the EU over the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.
A leaked communication from the US Department of Commerce said Johnson’s threats to trigger Article 16 and suspend the protocol were holding back any progress in scrapping the UK tariffs.
A Number 10 spokesperson said “those issues shouldn’t be conflated” on Thursday. Speaking before her trip, Trevelyan said: “From Teesside to Tulsa, there are huge opportunities to deepen the trading links benefiting communities on both sides of the Atlantic.
“We’ve already made strong progress; from getting British beef and lamb back on US plates, to lowering the cost of Scotch Whisky exports by addressing the long-running Airbus-Boeing issue. Now is the time to hit the ground running and get on with boosting ties with our closest ally.”
Trump introduced a 25 per cent tariff on steel exports and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium exports from the EU, Mexico and Canada in 2018.
Trump’s White House said the trade barriers were required for national security reasons, however the policy was widely thought to be a part of the ex-President’s attempt to boost US manufacturing.
On Thursday, trade minister Penny Mordaunt said it was a “false narrative” to conflate the steel tariff issue and UK-EU negotiations over Northern Ireland.