UK to ditch US Airbus-Boeing tariffs as it eyes trade deal

LONDON — Britain will suspend retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. in the Airbus-Boeing dispute as it tries to smooth the path toward a trade deal with Washington.

At the same time, the U.K. plans to roll over the EU’s retaliatory tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the U.S.

This will signal how Britain intends to stand against what it considers unjustified breaking of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules after the Trump administration — citing national security concerns — imposed tariffs on the EU’s exports of the raw materials in 2018. The U.K.’s rollover will mirror the EU’s own efforts to bite back.

Both moves will take effect on January 1, 2021, as the Brexit transition period ends.

“Ultimately, we want to de-escalate the conflict and come to a negotiated settlement so we can deepen our trading relationship with the U.S. and draw a line under all this,” U.K. Trade Secretary Liz Truss said. Britain will reserve the right to reimpose the tariffs.

Truss meanwhile said the rollover of the EU’s tariffs on steel and aluminum shows “we are protecting our steel industry against illegal and unfair tariffs — and will continue to do so.” Yet within that, she said, Britain is “also showing the U.S. we are serious about ending a dispute that benefits neither country.”

Truss has repeatedly raised the Airbus-Boeing dispute with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer during trade negotiations as the two work toward a trade deal. 

Nevertheless, the U.S. has refused to reconsider. In mid-October, President Donald Trump even threatened to “strike much harder” against EU countries, as well as the U.K., if they imposed $4 billion in new tariffs after the WTO gave the go-ahead.

Britain’s trade department says “any claim that U.K.

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