The free trade agreement between Washington and London is long awaited

The United States and Britain on Tuesday managed to settle their dispute over steel and aluminum, but the Biden administration did not appear to be in a hurry to resume negotiations on a free agreement.- exchange requested by the British Prime Minister. US Trade Secretary Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced on Tuesday that the two countries will stop punitive tariffs on these UK products, which were imposed in 2018 by former President Donald Trump.

“This critical agreement will not only help ensure the long-term viability of our steel and aluminum industry, protect US jobs, but it will also abolish retaliation taxes of more than $ 500 million in US exports to the UK, including spirits, miscellaneous agricultural products and consumer goods. , ”They commented in a joint statement.

“This is good news and a welcome boost for our steel and aluminum industry,” tweeted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Specifically, this new agreement will make it possible to import “historic and sustainable quantities of British steel and aluminum products without applying the tariffs in section 232”, US officials said.

Improve relations between the two countries

In January, the Americans and the British announced the launch of negotiations to put an end to this conflict, which is inherited from the Trump era and which has polluted relations between the two countries for almost four years. Britain was among many countries imposed additional tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum in June 2018, in the midst of a trade war.

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If the Biden administration had already reached agreements with the EU in October, then with Japan in early February, a negotiated solution was long awaited for London.

This agreement will thus make it possible to improve relations between the two countries, which already shortly after Joe Biden’s arrival at the White House had settled their second major dispute concerning subsidies to the aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus.

British Prime Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said she hoped this agreement would allow us to “move forward” and “focus on deepening our flourishing commercial relations with the United States”.

A commercial dialogue that continues in April

However, it pales in comparison to the large free trade agreement that Boris Johnson wants. The signing of a bilateral treaty with the United States was one of Britain’s priorities after Brexit, in force since 1 January 2021.

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But while the Donald Trump (2017-2021) administration was willing to enter into a bilateral agreement with London and even conducted a series of negotiations, the Biden administration let the process die. In addition, the United States has made a potential agreement conditional on strict compliance with the Northern Ireland Peace Agreement.

On Tuesday, Anne-Marie Trevelyan acknowledged that London had been trying to reach an agreement with Washington for “some time”, adding that her government did not give up. The British minister stressed that what was at stake was not only to remove tariffs but also to respond to the need to “build a trade relationship in the 21st century between two great nations that share common values”.

For her part, Katherine called on Tai to be “creative” in terms of trading tools, suggesting that an agreement was not on the agenda. Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Katherine Tai have announced that they will continue their business dialogue “in April, in Scotland” this time. “I do not want to prejudge or predetermine […] from where these dialogues will lead us, ”Katherine Tai tempered anyway.

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