Talks on levies
US trade chief hints at easing Scotch whisky tariff
Scotch is among the products hit by tariffs
Hopes are rising that the US will ease punitive tariffs on imported products such as Scotch whisky.
US trade representative Robert Lighthizer has indicated that the outgoing US administration will seek a “mini-deal” to ease trade between the US and the UK.
The UK government recently said it would drop tariffs against the US over subsidies for aerospace firms as a first move in relaxing levies. It was also part of a move to reach a post-Brexit trade deal with Washington.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said that she wanted to “de-escalate” the 16-year-old conflict over subsidies. Single malt whisky was among the products hit with further tariffs last year in the dispute between the US and the EU.
In a television interview Mr Lighthizer indicated the US was ready to respond. He said: “I’m talking to Liz Truss, about trying to work out some kind of a deal… I’m hopeful we can get some kind of an agreement out you know, we don’t have a lot of time left.”
“We have the advantage in that both the US and the UK – particularly the current government of the UK – are not big subsidisers, where some other countries are more inclined to subsidise.
“So it would be helpful if we could come to some kind of agreement,” he said when asked about lowering tariffs on whisky and cashmere. “We are in discussions, we’ll see how that works out.”
The talks are part of a general move by President Trump’s trade team to wrap up the Boeing-Airbus dispute with the EU, and the UK separately, outside the auspices of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
While Mr Lighthizer said it was “extremely likely” that a full deal would be struck “before long”, he emphasised that “tough compromises have to be made” on agricultural issues, for example.