UK/USA: Tariffs on Steel, aluminum and bourbon lifted

Nearly five month after the Biden-administration removed Trump-era tariffs on steel and aluminum with the European Union, the United States have agreed to ease it also on UK steel and aluminium shipments. In exchange, the UK will suspend extra taxes it had put on US products such as bourbon and jeans.

The agreement replaces the 25% tariffs on steel with a quota system that allows duty-free imports up to a certain level - the quota - before taxes kick in again.

The 25% tax on foreign steel shipments and 15% tax on foreign aluminum was imposed by former US President Donald Trump, citing a need to preserve America's manufacturing base and rejecting concerns that tariffs raise prices. The matter was hotly contested within the United States, as steel and aluminum prices skyrocketed and put American makers of steel products under severe pressure. (, 24.4.2018).

The now agreed elimination of tariffs on US goods creates a level playing field for the producers of US bourbon, since similar tariffs for Scotch whiskey had already fallen in June last year. (, 17.6.2021)

American spirits exporters toasted the deal, which should make their bourbon whiskeys cheaper for UK shoppers. "Distillers throughout the United States are cheering the end of this long tariff nightmare," Distilled Spirits Council President Chris Swonger said.

Solving the problem was made more difficult after the United Kingdom left the European Union after a narrowly won citizens' vote.

During the Trump era, the two blocs imposed trade and tariff barriers on each other, sometimes in retaliation to other tariffs. As a result, entire industries, such as the manufacturers of whiskey and bourbon, got caught in the crossfire. After the change of power in the United States, the new administration of Joe Biden sought a compromise with the European Union. However, since the UK had left the EU in the meantime, talks first started and customs barriers were lifted with the EU before the same could now follow with the UK.

Share this article: