U.S., UK to announce plans for formal talks on metals tariffs on Wednesday -sources

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FILE PHOTO: Steel coils sits in the yard at the Novolipetsk Steel PAO steel mill in Farrell

By David Lawder and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON – The United States and Britain are expected to announce plans on Wednesday to launch formal talks aimed at resolving a long-running trade dispute over U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, two people familiar with the plans said.

The announcement will come as part of a virtual meeting on the metals tariffs between U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and UK Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the sources told Reuters.

The two sides are not expected to announce a specific timeline for the talks nor a specific deadline for reaching an agreement, added one of the sources.

A U.S. Commerce Department spokesperson declined to comment on the announcement plans, and a spokesperson for the British embassy in Washington did not respond to a Reuters query about the talks.

Reuters reported last week that Raimondo and Trevelyan would speak virtually about the U.S. metals tariffs this month after the Commerce Department said that Raimondo was not in a position to travel to London for talks.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said last week that the Biden administration had begun talks with Japan over the steel and aluminum tariffs but that discussions with Britain would start “when the time is right”, without providing details.

Both Britain and Japan are keen to reach duty-free access to American steel and aluminum markets similar to that granted to the European Union on Jan. 1 as part of a quota deal reached with Washington last October.

The metals tariffs – 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum – were first imposed in March 2018 by former President Donald Trump on national security grounds and have been a major transatlantic trade irritant since then.

Britain adopted the EU’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. whiskey, motorcycles, blue jeans, tobacco and other products when it left the bloc at the start of 2021.

The EU dropped these retaliatory tariffs as part of its deal with the United States, which lifts tariffs on about 4 million tons of steel “melted and poured” in the bloc annually, with duties applied to higher volumes.

The U.S. and EU are pursuing a further agreement to curb global steelmaking with high carbon emissions, a goal aimed partly at curbing China’s coal-fired excess steel output.

(Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Raju Gopalakrishnan)