The British Minister of Commerce, Liz Truss, clarified that “our intention is to reach a settlement after negotiations so that we can deepen our trade relations with the USA”.
With its eyes on Washington and looking forward to a trade deal with the Biden government, Britain is making its first move as a non-EU country. Hours before British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with the president of the Commission, London announced that it was withdrawing the 25% tariffs recently imposed by Brussels on US products worth $ 4 billion. He even justified the move as part of a strategy aimed at “de-escalating trade tensions so that the US and Britain can move to the next phase of trade ties”.
These are tariffs approved by the World Trade Organization in retaliation for state aid to the American aerospace giant, the wintering Boeing. The dispute between Brussels and Washington is one of the longest-running disputes between the two sides of the Atlantic, lasting 16 years over the thorny issue of state aid.
The decision taken by Brussels in November to impose these duties was the latest move in the context of this dispute. The outgoing Trump administration’s decision last year to impose 25 percent tariffs on $ 7.5 billion worth of European products came after the WTO found that it had benefited from unfair state aid and the Franco-German aerospace industry, Airbus.
According to the Financial Times, the decision of the British Minister of Commerce, Liz Truce, seems to be an attempt by London to win the favor of Washington in view of the assumption of power by the Biden government and to pave the way for the conclusion of an independent trade agreement. with the USA.
Speaking to the British newspaper, Ms Tous stressed that Britain’s intention was “to reach a settlement after negotiations so that we can deepen our trade relations with the United States”. As the F.T. points out, however, it is doubtful whether London could actually maintain these duties unilaterally after 31 December, as the transition period ends and Britain is no longer a member of the EU.
It is indicative, after all, of the relevant comment of Paul Everitt, head of the British aerospace group ADS, who expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that the government “rushed to take unilateral action without securing any kind of retaliation to settle the dispute”, while stressing that if it maintained these duties even after 31 December it would be “a very aggressive move”.
As can be seen from the statement of this executive, the withdrawal of tariffs does not protect London from any retaliatory moves by the USA, given that on this issue Washington has moved not only against the EU. as a single entity but in particular against Spain, Britain, Germany and France.
Talks between Britain and the United States over a trade deal stalled last July on the grounds of London’s persistent refusal to offer the United States unimpeded access to US products in the British market. Therefore, the lifting of tariffs is unlikely to facilitate any rapprochement with Washington and Britain may have great difficulty in reaching a trade agreement with it.