Liz Truss 'extremely disappointed' with US tariffs as post-Brexit trade relationship becomes clearer

PUBLISHED: 11:14 16 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:14 16 October 2019

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss speaking at the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss speaking at the Conservative Party Conference at the Manchester Convention Centre. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

International trade secretary Liz Truss said that the USA's aggressive tariffs on products such as Scotch whisky could damage the relationship between the two countries.

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At an international trade scrutiny committee Truss admitted that she was "extremely disappointed" with retaliatory tariffs on a wide range of goods which the US announced in response to a WTO ruling giving subsidies to Airbus.

She said: "I'm extremely disappointed with the decision that the US government have made for retaliatory tariffs on whisky."

She added: "My view is we do have a good relationship with the US but this type of action is not going to help that relationship."

She said the UK has been hit "right across the board" by the tariffs, which include an extensive list of products including and which include Irish and Scotch whiskies, Stilton cheese, and textile and pork products

Truss continued: "I don't think tit-for-tat tariffs benefit anyone and of course I've had strong representations from the whisky industry, the Scottish Whisky Association, and numerous operations that would be affected by these tariffs."

She said that she has been discussing the issue since June with the US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, and that Boris Johnson has also raised it with Donald Trump.

Truss noted in the committee that "there are also threatened tariffs on the UK car industry", which could spell tariffs of up to £1.2 billion as soon as November 14.

The EU has said it will retaliate against the tariffs on the extensive list of products, which the US announced in early October.

But such bloc negotiations will not be possible when the UK is outside of the EU, and the escalating tariffs have been described as a "troubling glimpse of the post-Brexit future" by the Scotland secretary of the GMB union Gary Smith. "Scotland and the rest of the UK are sitting ducks after October 31," the Guardian reported him saying. "The collective strength we have in the EU trading bloc will be gone and there is simply no such thing as a 'special relationship' with the United States - Trump will squeeze the UK economy for everything he can get."

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