Speaking with the BBC, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that he was hopeful for a deal that could see punitive tariffs on Scottish whiskey lowered.
The United States is in talks with the UK to try to reach a mini-deal to reduce trade tariffs, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told the BBC.
Lighthizer continued by saying that London would need to go beyond the announcement that it would ditch tariffs against Washington over subsidies for aerospace firms, amid an ongoing dispute between the US and EU plane maker Airbus.
“I’m talking to [International Trade Secretary] 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”, Lighthizer responded when asked about reducing tariffs on whiskey and cashmere.
“We are in discussions, we’ll see how that works out”, Trump’s trade chief added.
According to the top US trade negotiator, the UK’s decision to distance itself from Europe in the years-long transatlantic row over Airbus and announce that it would no longer apply tariffs to imports of Boeing aircraft, would not be seen as a concession in talks, since London has never been a party to the dispute.
“We brought an action against the EU, France, Germany and the UK. The EU just brought one against us, the member states did not in all cases. so there’s no question that as a legal point, that is correct”, Lighthizer pointed out.
Instead, Washington seeks to have London make concessions on a different row: steel and aluminium. This can be put down to the EU imposing retaliatory measures, targeting, among other items, US bourbon in response to a hike in American tariffs on steel and aluminium.
Starting 1 January, the UK is set to suspend retaliatory tariffs imposed on American products as part of a dispute over aircraft subsidies, something which is viewed as the first step to diverging from EU trade policy.
“The Brexit situation was always something that was on our mind, if you think about it. The nature of our relationship is going to be affected by the nature of the relationship between the EU and the UK, right. They’re a much bigger trading partner to you than we are, so that has an impact… I’ve always had the view that there’s just an awful lot of trade between the UK and the EU and it was hard to see there weren’t going to be any rules to that”, Lighthizer emphasised.
Lighthizer’s BBC interview comes just a day after the United States and the United Kingdom signed a customs agreement set to take effect after the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year
The agreement will allow to smoothly carry on the customs trade relationship, including sharing data to tackle customs fraud, that the two sides maintained through the EU framework. The agreement was concluded from a free trade agreement, which is currently being negotiated between the two sides and is anticipated to be the centerpiece of the UK’s post-Brexit economic reality.