WASHINGTON, United States—The United States on Tuesday announced an agreement with Britain to end tariffs on steel and aluminum imports imposed by former president Donald Trump.
“By allowing for a flow of duty-free steel and aluminum from the UK, we further ease the gap between supply and demand for these products in the United States,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement.
“And by removing the UK’s retaliatory tariffs, we reopen the British market to beloved American products.”
The deal was the latest in a series of efforts by President Joe Biden to settle trade spats with US allies, some of which were long-running and others started under the Trump administration.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cheered the announcement of the deal “with our American friends.”
“This is fantastic news and a very welcome boost to our steel and aluminum industries,” he said on Twitter.
Washington and London in January announced the start of negotiations to end the dispute, which began in 2018 when Trump imposed levies of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports from Britain and other nations to protect US industry.
US companies for years have struggled to compete with the glut of supply coming out of China, but Trump penalized close trade partners citing national security concerns, which worsened relations with major US allies.
The Biden administration in October reached a deal to end the tariffs on the European Union, and in early February did the same with Japan.
Under the deal announced Tuesday, Britain will lift retaliatory tariffs it imposed on $500 million in American imports, including alcohol and consumer goods, the statement said.
It also stipulates that any British steel company “owned by a Chinese entity must undertake an audit of their financial records to assess influence from the People’s Republic of China government,” the results of which will be shared with the United States, the Commerce Department said.
Britain’s International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who met with Raimondo in Washington to finalize the agreement, said the deal was “good news for our steel and aluminum industries who have been unfairly hit by these tariffs, and the 80,000 people employed across the sector.”
US industry was more cautious in its praise, noting the benefits the tariffs provided to aluminum and steel manufacturers.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine should remind us all just how critical the domestic steel industry is to our national and economic security,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
“Section 232 quotas and tariffs have permitted the American steel industry to recover, invest, hire, and contribute robustly to our national defense,” he said, calling for a pause in more such deals to allow the industry to adjust.