UK suspends European tariffs on US in effort to ease whisky duties
The UK will suspend European tariffs on American products in an attempt to persuade the USA to cut high duties on whisky.
Last night, trade secretary Liz Truss hailed the UK’s standing as an “independent trading nation” as she announced plans to break away from the European Union’s decision to impose duties worth billions of dollars on the United States.
Ms Truss claimed that the post-Brexit move would demonstrate that the UK was serious about ending the world’s largest corporate trade dispute between Airbus and Boeing which have plagued Washington and Brussels for almost twenty years.
In 2019, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) allowed the US to impose tariffs on EU goods worth up to $7.5bn after the union was found to have illegally subsidised Airbus.
The Trump administration also targeted a vast catalogue of European goods such as French cheese, Spanish wine and Scottish single malt whisky.
After the WTO approved subsequent duties on goods worth $4bn over the US support for Boeing, the EU hit American exports including aircraft, construction equipment and farm produce.
However, the UK will stop collecting these tariffs from January 1 in its first major decision on trade after Brexit, The Times reports.
Ms Truss said: “As an independent trading nation once again, we finally have the ability to shape these tariffs to our interests and our economy, and to stand up for UK business.
“Ultimately, we want to de-escalate the conflict and come to a negotiated settlement so we can deepen our trading relationship with the US and draw a line under all this.”
However, the UK will maintain tariffs imposed by the EU after President Trump put duties on foreign steel and aluminium. These cover popular American products including bourbon, motorcycles and jeans.
Ms Truss added: “We are protecting our steel industry against illegal and unfair tariffs — and will continue to do so — but are also showing the US we are serious about ending a dispute that benefits neither country.”
Scotch industry leaders have warned that a 25% tariff on their single malt exports has driven distilleries to the brink over the past year.
Karen Betts, of the Scotch Whisky Association, welcomed the announcement as a “very encouraging step”.
She said: “We hope that this marks the beginning of the end of trade tensions with the US. It shows the UK government’s determination to de-escalate the damaging transatlantic trade disputes that have seen Scotch whisky exports to the US fall by over 30% in the past year.
“We now call on the US government to reciprocate by suspending the tariffs on UK goods stemming from the Airbus/Boeing dispute, so that industries in the UK and the US affected by this dispute can once again trade freely. The US government’s removal of Airbus retaliation on Scotch could, in turn, justify the UK removing tariffs on US whiskey under the steel and aluminium dispute.”