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UK-US steel spat Brexit heist fears – POLITICO

LONDON – Westminster fears that instead of improving UK-US trade, Brexit will make it more difficult.

Suspicions are growing, including within the British government, that a trade dispute between the two countries – which should have been settled a month ago – is dragging on due to feuds over the Northern Irish protocol.

US President Joe Biden has warned the UK to be cautious in the pact governing trade between Northern Ireland, Britain and the EU in the aftermath of Brexit, and fears a upheaval could jeopardize the hard-fought peace in the country. But the UK government has threatened to trigger a nuclear clause in the protocol that could bring it down.

Meanwhile, the United States has kept in place the punitive steel and aluminum tariffs first imposed under Donald Trump’s administration. Britain has not been able to eliminate tariffs – although Washington struck a deal to end the same war with Brussels a month ago – but will issue a new appeal when its chief minister of Commerce will be in Washington next week.

“This is yet another example of UK industry paying the price for Boris Johnson’s botched Brexit deal,” said Shadow Foreign Secretary Stephen Kinnock, who represents the Aberavon steel headquarters in Wales. He said the tariffs were a simple method of inflicting suffering on the UK because of the protocol.

“So much for the special relationship,” he added. “Our economy and our industry are paying the price for political and diplomatic failures. That’s the gist of what’s happening, and it will continue to be so as long as Boris Johnson and Brexit Minister David Frost are out walking.

Flint Global trade expert Sam Lowe agreed the protocol puts an extra key in the work. “Although that is not the only reason the UK is struggling to strike a deal with the US to remove tariffs on steel and aluminum, as the EU has done.” , he said, “the current stalemate over Northern Ireland certainly makes it more difficult.”

An insider from the Department of International Trade admitted that Brexit issues like the protocol – although nothing to do with the steel and aluminum issue – are “political blocs” to a deal between Washington and London.

Nerves of steel

The dispute centers on US National Security Section 232 tariffs of up to 25% on steel and aluminum, which went into effect in 2018. The original dispute was between Trump and the EU, but Britain was forced to postpone tariffs after Brexit. The UK has fought back with sanctions on Levi’s jeans, bourbon whiskey and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan is due to travel to Washington for talks next week, POLITICO has been informed, and the issue will be discussed. The thinking within the Commerce Department is that explaining the UK’s position on the protocol could help ease tensions.

But pressure is mounting at home to resolve the spat. Andrew Percy, Tory MP for Brigg and Goole, home to thousands of steelworkers, submitted a series of written questions to ministers this week asking what the heist is. “We hope to be able to follow suit with the agreement with the EU,” he said. “We continue to raise it with ministers and we will seek an update.”

Labor MP Darren Jones, chairman of the House of Commons affairs committee, said it was “an indictment against ministers’ promises that Brexit would be a boon to industry” that the Great Brittany did not appear to be in a position to resolve the steel problem with the United States “the ministers claim to be in talks, but there appears to be no action,” he added.

It is not as if there is no precedent for resolving such disputes. When the United States and the EU struck a deal over a long row against aerospace companies Boeing and Airbus in June, the UK followed suit less than 72 hours later, leaving trade experts wondering why the same did not happen when Brussels and Washington concluded their steel truce.

“Many expected that once the US and EU found a solution to the steel tariff dispute, the UK would be able to come to a roughly similar deal. “said Holger Hestermeyer, professor of international and European law at King’s College London. “The fact that this does not appear to be the case is a good indication that the UK and the EU are moving away from each other.”

“We welcome the [Joe] The Biden administration’s willingness to work with us and other like-minded allies to resolve steel and aluminum trade issues, and it is encouraging that the United States continues to take action to defuse this problem, “said a spokesperson for the Commerce Department, adding that Trevelyan is in regular discussions with his counterparts on the issue and” is focused on passing a resolution that removes damaging tariffs in favor of companies on both sides of the Atlantic ”.

The White House has reportedly denied that the two issues are linked, but the US government did not respond to a request for comment.

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