Lobsters, wine, and chocolate imported into the United Kingdom from the United States could face new tariffs under proposals from the U.K. government to rebalance the list of goods it targets as part of the ongoing trade conflict around steel and aluminum.
The administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump introduced 25 percent and 10 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, citing national security concerns, prompting retaliatory measures from the European Union on goods such as motorcycles, whiskey, and tobacco.
The United Kingdom incorporated those into its new independent tariff system when it completed its exit from the E.U. at the end of 2020, but is now reviewing the list of products to help protect U.K.-specific interests, Reuters reported.
"Today's announcement will help ensure these measures are tailored to the needs of the U.K. economy and shaped to defend industries across the U.K., including steel and aluminum manufacturers," the trade ministry said in a statement.
The United Kingdom currently imports more lobsters from the United States than it exports. It also imported GBP 224 million (USD 317.1 million, EUR 258.9 million) worth of wine from the country last year, and GBP 31 million (USD 43.9 million, EUR 35.8 million) worth of chocolate.
The list, which did not show proposed tariff rates, was published as part of a six-week consultation with businesses and other stakeholders.
According to Reuters, U.K. Trade Minister Liz Truss has already sought to use the country’s independence from the E.U.'s common tariff policy as a diplomatic and economic tool. She has already opened applications for a tariff-suspension program with a promise to help manufacturers lower costs.
The country’s stated preference is to deescalate the dispute with the United States and find a negotiated solution that removes tariffs on both sides. If successful, the proposed list would never be implemented.
The trade department said Truss and her U.S. counterpart have so far had productive discussions on the matter, but the United Kingdom maintains that the current U.S. tariffs that initiated the dispute are against World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and without foundation.
"The U.K. will do whatever is necessary to protect our steel industry against illegal tariffs that could undermine British industry and damage our businesses," Truss said in a statement.
Photo courtesy of Maine Coast