US to delay trade deal with UK due to post-Brexit concerns: FT

The flags of the USA and the United Kingdom in dispatch of the US State Department, Washington, USA, March 22, 2017. REUTERS / Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON, Dec 2 (Reuters) – The United States will delay its agreement to eliminate tariffs on UK steel and aluminum over concerns about post-Brexit trade rules affecting Northern Ireland, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

The government of former US President Donald Trump imposed tariffs of 25% and 10% on steel and aluminum imports into the European Union in 2018. The tariffs were withdrawn in October of this year, but they remain in effect for the United Kingdom due to its departure from the European Union.

An official from the United States Department of Commerce said that talks with London on easing tariffs on metals could not move forward, according to a communication the newspaper had access to.

The official cited Washington’s concerns – especially in Congress – over British threats to activate the emergency clause of Article 16, the report said.

Article 16 is an emergency brake that allows the UK or the EU to seek to suspend parts of the Brexit deal, which introduced some controls on the movement of goods to Northern Ireland from Britain if they lead to persistent difficulties.

The FT reported that the United States had informed the United Kingdom of the reason for the delay.

The UK Commerce Department said: “We do not see any connection to this particular issue and the Northern Ireland Protocol and it will in no way affect the UK’s approach.”

“This is because significant changes to the Protocol are needed to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market,” he added.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that it is important not to combine the two issues.

“Regarding the steel tariffs, we are working closely with the Biden administration. It is encouraging that they are taking steps to reduce the problem and we are very focused on agreeing to a resolution that will remove the damaging tariffs,” he told reporters.

(Reporting by Akriti Sharma, Shubham Kalia and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)

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