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Brexit: UK and US to hold formal talks in bid to break deadlock over steel and aluminium


The United Kingdom and United States are expected to announce plans to launch formal trade talks on Wednesday. Negotiations are set to take place in an attempt to resolve a long-running dispute between London and Washington over tariffs on steel and aluminum.

However, neither the UK or US are expected to set out a timeline for the talks or a deadline to secure an agreement.

Reuters reports the International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, 52, and US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, 50, will announce the plans as a part of a virtual meeting concerning the tariffs placed on metals.

The report comes just a week after US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, 47, suggested they would look to ease tariffs on British steel and aluminum “when the time is right”.

Japan is also keen to strike a new deal with the United States.

Both London and Tokyo hope to mirror the “duty-free access” deal signed by Brussels and Washington in October, which enabled additional costs to be lifted on around 4million tons of steel “melted and poured” into the EU annually.

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The UK opted to keep the EU’s pre-deal retaliatory tariffs on US products, including on whiskey and tobacco, when it severed ties with the EU’s single market and customs union in January 2021.

However, the news comes as the Institute of Export and International Trade has claimed Brexit Britain has now overtaken both Germany and China as the top growth market for US business.

Around 37 percent of US CEOs surveyed named the UK as one of the three countries or territories most important to their companies’ revenue growth prospects.

The figure was just 21 percent last year.

The number of American business chiefs who named China stood at 26 percent and Germany was slightly further behind on 24 percent.

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Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner of PwC UK, said: “It’s not hard to see why US businesses have their sights on the UK.

“Aside from longstanding draws such as our trusted legal and business environment, certain factors make us ripe for investment now.

“Successful vaccine rollout and significant government funding have given us a head start on recovery.

“Meanwhile, our listed assets represent good value, at a time when many investors have full war chests to spend.”

The US estimates goods and services trade with the United Kingdom stood at a whopping $273billion in 2019.

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However, President Joe Biden, 79, is said to be less enthusiastic about striking a post-Brexit trade deal and has put pressure on the UK Government over its negotiations with the EU over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The leave-voting Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt, 48, who has been tipped as a dark horse in the race to succeed 57-year-old Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, even suggested back in November that much of her time will be spent “working in the US at state level”.

She added: “We know the US has more to do to be ready for an FTA, but when they are, we will be waiting for them.”

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