United States suspends tariffs on UK goods in trade dispute

United States suspends tariffs on UK goods in trade dispute

It was announced on 4 March that the United States (US) has temporarily suspended tariffs on a range of goods, cutting the 25% tariff rate on Scotch whisky to zero per cent for four months.

Scotch was the UK’s largest food and drink export in 2020, and exports of single malt Irish and Scotch whiskies to the US were worth about £340m in 2018. UK Exports to the US fell by 35% over the 16 months the measures have been in force, costing companies more than half a billion pounds, according to the Scotch Whisky Association.

In 2018 the UK exported to the US around £38m of pig meat that was targeted by the tariffs and also £45m of the cheeses that were targeted by the tariffs, of which around £4m was stilton cheese.

The year before the tariffs were imposed (2018), the US imported around £550m of goods affected by these measures from the UK. The list of products that attracted a 25% tariff included UK-made:

(1) Cashmere jumpers. (In 2018 the UK exported to the US around £11m worth of the knitted and crocheted clothing that were targeted by the tariffs, of which around £6m are cashmere.)
(2) Anoraks
(3) Swimwear
(4) Bed linen

It was reported that 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 tariff suspension will help protect jobs in industries who have been targeted by these tariffs in both the UK and USA.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “From Scotch Whisky distillers to Stilton-makers, businesses across the UK will benefit from the US decision 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.”

The Government site states that benefits should be felt across the UK, especially in Scotland, where Scotch whisky distillers will be able to sell at lower prices in the United States, their most valuable market.

Click here to read the full press release from the Department of International Trade.

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