Biden’s administration is planning on delaying its deal to remove tariffs on UK metals left over by the Trump administration, due to concerns about potential post-Brexit trade rules affecting Northern Ireland.
In a communication seen by the Financial Times, a US commerce department official said that negotiations with the UK on easing steel and aluminium tariffs could not move forward, largely due to US concerns over British threats to trigger emergency clause Article 16.
Article 16 is an emergency break clause for the post-Brexit Northern Ireland protocol that could suspend parts of the UK-EU agreement and would mean goods travelling to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK would not be checked, if it lead to difficulties.
Meddling thus with the EU-UK agreement that meant the UK’s exit from the bloc could go ahead in 2020 could jeopardise peace on the island of Ireland, both Brussels and Washington have warned repeatedly.
The UK department of trade said: “We do not see any connection with this particular issue and the Northern Ireland protocol and it will in no way affect the UK’s approach. That is because significant changes are needed to the protocol in order to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement and Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market.”
More to follow.