US stance on trade tariffs ‘deeply disappointing’, Minister tells NPA

The Department of International Trade is ‘deeply disappointed’ that the US is refusing to drop prohibitive tariffs on various EU products, including pork, a Minister has told the NPA.

The US announced it was imposing the tariffs, worth up to £6 billion, following a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling on US retaliation rights in the EU-USA Airbus dispute. They cover a range of EU goods, also including Scotch whisky, cheese and other dairy products, fruit, seafood, wine and clothing, as well as pork.

According to AHDB, the UK exported 11,200 tonnes of frozen pork to the US last year, around 11% of the UK’s total frozen pork exports, much of it high value premium product. The trade was worth £33.4 million in 2018.

NPA chairman Richard Lister wrote to International Trade Secretary Liz Truss last month expressing ‘grave concerns’ regarding the tariffs of 25% imposed on EU pork and a range of other products by the US.

He told Ms Truss the British pig sector was ‘greatly troubled by the proposed 25% tariff that will be placed upon exports of pork to the USA’. “A great deal of industry, producer and government resource has been put into opening the USA export market. The nature of the trade has largely been the export of premium, high value, high welfare pigs raised without antibiotics.

“As I am sure you are aware, this is not a standard of production common to the USA, and as a result it is a popular product there.”

He urged Mrs Truss to work with Defra and the relevant US authorities to resolve the matter.

Negative effect

Responding, International Trade Minister Conor Burns said he shared the NPA’s concerns about the ‘potentially negative effect these tariffs could have on the industry’. “The Secretary of State and I are deeply disappointed that the US has not reconsidered its position on these retaliatory measures,” he said.

“We are clear in all our engagement with the US that tariffs are not in the interest of the UK, EU or US and we will continue to strongly press the case against tariffs and for a negotiated settlement.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has directly urged president Donald Trump, to reconsider the tariffs. Ms Truss recently raised the issue with US trade Representative Lighthiser, while Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has discussed it with Secretary of State Pompeo, he added.

“We will continue to work with US to promote and protect your members’ interests and that of all UK industry. May I assure you that the challenge of US tariffs remains present in the UK Government’s work at the highest levels and the Government’s top priority is that our industries prosper.”

Mr Lister welcomed the Government’s response to his letter and said he hoped its efforts would result in the ‘damaging tariffs’ being dropped.

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.