In a welcome boost for UK food and drink exports, the US has today suspended all retaliatory tariffs on UK exports resulting from the Airbus dispute for four months.
The measures, which will come into force on Monday, March 8, backdated to today, have been agreed in an effort to reach a negotiated solution to the 16- year long dispute.
This follows the UK’s decision to suspend Boeing tariffs against the US from January, which the Government said was ‘a show of good faith which ensured the UK was not hit by further tariffs and allowed both countries to work on ending the dispute and focus on deepening our future trading relationship’.
The move by the US to impose 25% tariffs in autumn 2019 as the latest escalation in the long-running dispute affected a wide range of goods across the food and drink sector and beyond – in 2018, the US imported around £550m of goods affected by these measures from the UK.
The Government said the tariff suspension will help protect jobs on both sides of the Atlantic in industries who have been targeted by these ‘unfair tariffs’, particularly Scotch whisky, exports of which were worth around £340m in 2018.
The Department for International Trade also highlighted how ‘pig farmers in Yorkshire’ would benefit as exports worth around £38m in 2018 were affected, alongside ‘Cashmere producers in Ayrshire’ and ‘Stilton makers in the Midlands’.
The Department said the UK will continue to engage with the US to agree a fair settlement to the dispute, that permanently removes punitive tariffs and works for the whole of the UK. This would benefit the UK’s aerospace industry which employs people across the country, including Wales, Belfast and Sheffield, it said.
But it said the government reserves the right to re-impose tariffs at any point if satisfactory progress towards an agreeable settlement is not made.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “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. I now look forward to strengthening the UK-US relationship, as we drive economic growth and build back better together.”
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “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.
“This is Global Britain in action: securing new opportunities as a newly nimble nation. The benefits will be felt across our nation, especially in Scotland, where Scotch whisky distillers will be able to sell at lower prices in the United States, their most valuable market.”
Meanwhile, the UK and US are continuing to work towards ‘an ambitious trade deal’, which could eliminate almost £500m in tariffs on UK exports to the US, the Government added.