Joe Biden administration suspends tariffs on UK goods for four months

Joe Biden administration suspends tariffs on UK goods for four months

The US has reciprocated a post-Brexit move by the UK to suspend tariffs on some goods in a long-running dispute with the European Union over aircraft subsidies for Boeing and Airbus.

The UK had previously suspended tariffs on US imports from January, and now the Joe Biden administration is following suit with a four-month, tax-free window on British goods such as stilton cheeses and pork imposed by former president Donald Trump in 2019.

"The United States will temporarily suspend all retaliatory tariffs on direct exports from the UK to the US resulting from the Airbus dispute for four months, in an effort to reach a negotiated solution to the 16-year long dispute," the UK's Department for International Trade said in a statement yesterday (4 March) in a move due to become effective on Monday 8 March but backdated to Thursday.

In 2019, the EU was hit with 25% tariffs imposed by Trump, including the UK because it was still then part of the trading bloc, on a host of products, with food featuring heavily, such as cheese and butter, frozen meats, sausages, fruits and pasta. In beverages, Scotch whisky and coffee were also impacted.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in the same statement: "From Scotch whisky distillers to stilton-makers, businesses across the UK will benefit from the US decision today to suspend tariffs in this dispute. It shows what the UK can do as an independent trading nation, striking deals that back our businesses and support free and fair trade."

The UK trade department noted that in 2018, the country's pig farmers exported around GBP38m (US$52.6m) worth of pork to the US, and about GBP45m of cheeses, of which GBP4m was stilton cheeses.

Liz Truss, the UK's International Trade Secretary, added: "I am delighted to say that our American allies – under their new president and his hard-working staff at the US Trade Representative – have embraced our move to seek a fair settlement."

Talks between the two administrations will continue in order to reach a more comprehensive settlement over the aircraft subsidies dispute which "permanently removes punitive tariffs", the UK said, adding "the Government reserves the right to re-impose tariffs at any point if satisfactory progress towards an agreeable settlement is not made".