US suspends tariffs on UK exports imposed over Airbus-Boeing spat



The US will suspend retaliatory tariffs on UK products caught up in the longstanding dispute over illegal aid to Boeing and Airbus in a boost for post-Brexit Britain’s trade agenda.

The tariff suspension will last four months to “focus on negotiating a balanced settlement to the disputes”, the Government said on Thursday.

The decision means goods such as Scotch whisky, biscuits and clotted cream can be imported to the US from Britain without being subject to an additional 25pc duty.

Removing tariffs on UK-US trade has been a priority for Boris Johnson’s government as it seeks a broader trade deal with President Biden’s administration.

Britain unilaterally dropped tariffs on some U.S. products indefinitely in January in a bid to reduce trade tensions but the former Trump administration did not reciprocate.

The temporary rollback by the US could help resolve part of the World Trade Organisation dispute over the aid to Boeing and Airbus, which has resulted in WTO-authorised tariffs targeting nearly $12bn worth of transatlantic trade.

The dispute, which has dragged on for 17 years, involves the U.S. and the four European countries that manufacture Airbus aircraft and parts — Germany, France, Spain and the U.K.

It was not immediately clear if the Biden administration would also agree to temporarily suspend its tariffs on EU goods that the Trump administration targeted for retaliation in the dispute.

In November, the EU announced tariffs targeting $4bn worth of Boeing planes and US products including spirits, nuts and tractors as part of a tit-for-tat escalation against the US.

For its part, the US imposed levies on $7.5bn of EU products starting in 2019.

Although the European Commission had repeatedly asked the U.S. for a six-month suspension of tariffs to negotiate a settlement, former US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer declined to do so and further increased tariffs against EU goods in one of his final acts in office.

The UK said the latest move was a “bold, joint step” toward resolving one of the longest running issues at the WTO.

The statement also said that the UK and US would focus on “addressing the challenges posed by new entrants to the civil aviation market from non-market economies, such as China”.