On 8 December 2020, the Department for International Trade (DIT) announced its independent approach to the longstanding trade conflicts between the EU and US around steel, aluminium and aerospace tariffs. The announcement said:
To defend the UK steel industry, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is rolling over tariffs in response to the unjustified ‘Section 232’ tariffs imposed by the US on aluminium and steel imports. These tariffs will continue from January 1st when the UK becomes an independent trading nation once again.
The Department for International Trade will launch a consultation to ensure these tariffs are shaped to UK interests and tailored to the UK economy, based on evidence and input from key stakeholders. Details of the scope and timing of the consultation will be confirmed in due course.
In parallel, the UK government is suspending retaliatory tariffs resulting from the Boeing dispute in an effort to bring the US towards a reasonable settlement and show that the UK is serious about reaching a negotiated outcome. The government reserves the right to impose tariffs at any point if satisfactory progress towards an agreeable settlement is not made.
The twin announcements are part of the government’s strategy to de-escalate trade tensions so the US and UK can move forward to the next phase of their trading relationship, and ultimately draw a line under a dispute that harms industry on both sides of the Atlantic.