United States agrees to lift tariffs on British steel, aluminum

The United States has agreed to lift tariffs on British steel and aluminum, mending a rift between allies that dates back to the Trump administration.

At a meeting Tuesday in Baltimore, the U.S. and the United Kingdom announced a deal that would remove taxes on British steel and aluminum that comes in below new quotas on the imports. The British agreed to lift retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports, including whiskey.

In 2018, President Donald Trump imposed tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum, calling the foreign metals a threat to U.S. national security—a move that outraged the British, Europeans and other longstanding American allies. Although President Joe Biden had criticized Trump for alienating America’s friends, he was slow once taking office to undo the metals tariffs, popular in the politically important steel-producing states.

Last year, the Biden administration reached a deal with the European Union, agreeing to drop the tariffs on EU metals that come in below new import quotas and continuing to tax imports that exceed them.

Critics said all along that Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs did little to address the real problem confronting American producers of steel and aluminum: overproduction by China. But the United States already shuts out most Chinese steel.

Under the agreement announced Tuesday, Chinese-owned steel companies in Britain must undergo annual audits to ensure that cheap Chinese steel can’t slip into the United States tariff free.

American whiskey producers welcomed the resolution to the trade standoff.

“Distillers throughout the United States are cheering the end of this long tariff nightmare,” Chris Swonger, CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council, said in a statement.

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