Fear of Brexit stop over British-American steel saliva – POLITICO

LONDON – Westminster is worried that instead of improving trade between the UK and the US, Brexit will make it harder.

The suspicion is rising, also internally in the British government, that a trade dispute between the two countries – which should have been put to bed a month ago – is dragging out due to quarrels over the Northern Ireland protocol.

US President Joe Biden has warned Britain to tread carefully in the pact that regulates trade between Northern Ireland, Britain and the EU in the wake of Brexit, and fears that a disturbance could jeopardize the nation’s hard-fought peace. But the British government has threatened to trigger a nuclear clause in the protocol that could cause it to collapse.

Meanwhile, the United States has stuck to punishing tariffs on steel and aluminum that were first imposed under the Donald Trump administration. Britain has not been able to shake off tariffs – despite Washington making an agreement to end the same war with Brussels a month ago – but will make a new appeal when its top trade minister visits Washington in next week.

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

“So much for the special relationship,” he added. “Our economy and industry are paying the price for political and diplomatic failures. That is the bottom line of what is happening and it will continue to be so as long as Boris Johnson and Brexit Minister David Frost go around sabotaging.”

Trade expert Sam Lowe of Flint Global agreed that the protocol puts an extra screw in the work. “While this is not the only reason why the UK is having a hard time agreeing on an agreement with the US to remove steel and aluminum tariffs, as the EU has done,” he said, “the ongoing conflict over Northern Ireland certainly makes it more difficult. . ”

An insider in the Department of International Trade admitted that Brexit issues such as the protocol – although nothing to do with the steel and aluminum series – are “political blocs” for an agreement between Washington and London.

Nerves of steel

The series is focused on tough Section 232 U.S. national security tariffs of up to 25 percent on steel and aluminum, which went into effect in 2018. The original quarrel was between Trump and the EU, but Britain was forced to transfer tariffs after Brexit. The United Kingdom retaliated with sanctions on Levi’s jeans, bourbon whiskey and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan is scheduled to travel to Washington for negotiations next week, POLITICO has been told, and the issue will be discussed. The thinking in the Chamber of Commerce is that an explanation of Britain’s position on the protocol could help ease tensions.

But the pressure is growing at home to solve the problem. Andrew Percy, Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole, home to thousands of steel workers, submitted a series of written questions to ministers this week, asking what the delay is. “We hope we can follow suit with the EU agreement,” he said. “We continue to take it up with the ministers and we will look for an update.”

Labor MP Darren Jones, chair of Commons ‘executive committee, said it was “an accusation against ministers’ promises that Brexit would be a boon to industry” that Britain did not appear to be able to resolve the steel issue with US “ministers” claims to be in talks but there does not appear to be any action, “he added.

It is not as if there is no precedent for resolving such disputes. When the US and the EU reached an agreement on a long-running quarrel over the airlines Boeing and Airbus in June, Britain followed suit less than 72 hours later – leaving trade experts scratching their heads over why the same did not happen when Brussels and Washington struck their truce on steel.

“Many had expected that once the US and the EU found a solution to the steel tariff dispute, Britain would be able to reach a roughly similar agreement,” said Holger Hestermeyer, professor of international law and EU law at King’s College London. “The fact that this does not appear to be the case highlights that the UK and the EU are slipping apart.”

“We welcome you [Joe] The Biden administration’s willingness to work with us and other like-minded allies to resolve trade issues related to steel and aluminum, and it is encouraging that the United States continues to take steps to de-scale this issue, “said a spokesman for the trade department and added that Trevelyan is in regular discussions with counterparts on the issue and is “focused on reaching agreement on a resolution that sees harmful tariffs removed for the benefit of businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The White House is said to deny that the two issues are related, but the U.S. government did not respond to a request for comment.

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