(Added UK spokesperson’s comments, details of the trade dispute)
By David Lawder
WASHINGTON, Jan.13 (Reuters) – US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is expected to participate in virtual talks with UK officials over US steel and aluminum tariffs in the coming month, said Thursday to Reuters a source close to the project.
Britain wants to negotiate an agreement granting substantial duty-free access to the United States for its steel and aluminum producers, modeled on the quota deal Washington struck with the European Union in October.
The deal between the US and the EU entered into force on January 1 and gives EU steelmakers a significant price advantage in the US market over their UK competitors, who are still subject to tariffs. 25% customs duty on steel and 10% on aluminum.
A Commerce Department spokesperson declined to comment on plans for virtual talks.
However, the department had said earlier that Raimondo was unable to make it to London in person at the moment, after an invitation last month https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/britain-presses -us -quick-move-steel-aluminum-tariffs-2021-12-08 from UK Trade Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Wednesday the Biden administration would begin tariff talks with Britain “when the time comes” https://www.reuters.com/business/us-trade -chief-tai- dit-va-engage-uk-steel-talks-when-time-is-right-2022-01-12.
While the Commerce Department retains jurisdiction over the Cold War-era trade law that permitted tariffs on “Section 232” metals for national security reasons, the USTR has played a key role in negotiating the terms of the quota deal with the EU, which allows around 4 million tonnes of EU steel each year to the US duty-free.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday it was understandable that Raimondo could not engage in international travel due to the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but talks were urgently needed. emergency.
“We maintain the urgent need to make progress on this issue, to lift the prospect of further tariff retaliation on American products and look forward to virtual talks with the United States,” he said. (Reporting by David Lawder; Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan in London; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)