U.S. Suspends Tariffs on Scotch, Cheese and Other Products From U.K. -- Update
By Yuka Hayashi
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. temporarily suspended tariffs on Scotch,
cheese, cashmere sweaters and other consumer imports from the U.K.
on Thursday as the nations work to resolve a longstanding trade
dispute over commercial-aircraft subsidies.
The decision to suspend the 25% duties was announced in a joint
statement by both governments, and follows the U.K.'s decision that
took effect Jan. 1 to lift duties on products including U.S. rum,
brandy and vodka.
Levies on U.S. bourbon and other whiskeys remain, because they
were taxed separately in response to U.S. steel and aluminum
The mutual suspension of tariffs will be in effect for four
months, and reflects a thawing of trade tensions between the two
countries. President Biden has pledged to work more closely with
U.S. allies, in contrast to the aggressive tactics and tariffs
pursued by the Trump administration to address what it called
unfair trade practices by other countries.
The tit-for-tat tariffs stem from a long-running dispute between
the U.S., the European Union and the U.K. over European subsidies
to Airbus SE and U.S. subsidies to Boeing Co.
The retaliatory tariffs imposed by the U.S. and the EU against
each other remain in place, affecting billions of dollars in
European wine and food products imported into the U.S. as well as
American tobacco, nuts and other food products shipped to the
In their joint statement Thursday, the U.S. and U.K. governments
said the four-month suspension of the tariffs would allow them to
"de-escalate the issue and create space for a negotiated settlement
to the Airbus and Boeing disputes."
The big winners of the latest move are the U.K. distilleries of
Scotch whisky and their U.S. importers and consumers.
The U.K. shipped nearly $500 million of single-malt Scotch to
the U.S. in 2018, before the U.S. tariffs were implemented the next
year. That accounted for roughly two-thirds of the $750 million in
items affected in 2018 by the U.S. duties in the aircraft dispute.
Other beneficiaries include pork, cheese and cashmere clothing, the
U.K. government said.
"Businesses across the UK will benefit from the U.S. decision
today to suspend tariffs in this dispute," British Prime Minister
Boris Johnson said in a written statement. "I look forward to
strengthening the UK-U.S. relationship, as we drive economic growth
and build back better together."
The agreement comes as the U.S. and the U.K. continue to
negotiate a new bilateral trade agreement, sought eagerly by London
after its departure from the EU. Mr. Biden has said he won't sign
new trade agreements soon, as he gives priority to the recovery of
the domestic economy.
Trade experts said the suspension of the U.K. tariffs will put
pressure on U.S. and EU officials to seek an early solution to the
"It is going to force the European Union to at least reconsider
its posture," said Roger Murry, a lawyer for the Coalition to Stop
Restaurant Tariffs, which represents restaurants and wine importers
-- two groups already struggling during the coronavirus
Katherine Tai, who is expected to be confirmed U.S. Trade
Representative in the coming days, said at her confirmation hearing
last week that she would be eager to settle the aircraft dispute.
"I would very much be interested in figuring out how to land this
particular plane because it has been going on for a very long
time," she said.
The EU's trade commissioner, Vladis Dombrovskis, called for a
mutual suspension of tariffs in the aircraft dispute this
The U.K. and EU tariffs on some American products, including
whiskey, remain as their response to the U.S. tariffs on steel and
aluminum imposed by the Trump administration.
Write to Yuka Hayashi at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 04, 2021 15:49 ET (20:49 GMT)
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