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U.S., U.K. to talk on lifting steel levy

Distillers hope for end of whiskey tax by The Associated Press | January 20, 2022 at 2:27 a.m.

WASHINGTON -- The United States and the United Kingdom have agreed to begin talks on removing former President Donald Trump's import taxes on British steel and aluminum.

In a joint statement Wednesday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and U.K. Trade Minister Anne-Marie Tevelyan said they would be working toward a swift deal that ensures the viability of the steel and aluminum industries in both countries and also "strengthens their democratic alliance."

In 2018, Trump imposed tariffs of 25% on foreign steel and 10% on aluminum, calling them a threat to U.S. national security -- a move that outraged the British, Europeans and other longstanding American allies.

Last year, the Biden administration reached a deal with the European Union, agreeing to drop the tariffs on EU metals that come in below new import quotas and continuing to tax imports that exceed them. The EU dropped retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products, including whiskey.

U.S. distillers are hoping the talks with Britain will lead to an end to the U.K.'s remaining tariffs on American spirits. Chris Swonger, president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, called Wednesday's announcement "a very positive development."

Critics said all along that Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs did little to address the real problem confronting American producers of steel and aluminum: overproduction by China. But the United States already shuts out most Chinese steel. So the Trump tariffs dealt out punishment mostly to American allies.

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