LONDON – British luxury lobby Walpole has applauded a new, five-year truce between the U.K. and the U.S. in the longstanding Airbus-Boeing dispute that saw tariffs of up to 25 percent imposed on exports such as Savile Row suits, cashmere knits and Scottish whisky.
On Thursday, both countries said they planned to work together on the resolution of the World Trade Organization’s battle over government subsidies to airplane manufacturers Airbus in Europe, and Boeing in the U.S. The dispute has been rolling on for 17 years.
Since 2019, British luxury goods have been caught in the crossfire of the dispute which had cost producers of cashmere, high-end tailoring, and bed linen here hundreds of millions of pounds. Walpole and other industry lobbies had long argued that British luxury should never have been “collateral damage” in a trade war about airplane parts.
As reported in December, the U.K. had tried to deescalate the dispute by suspending retaliatory tariffs imposed by European countries on the U.S. That move prompted the U.S. to agree to a four-month suspension of tariffs while both the U.S. and the U.K. negotiated a longer-term arrangement.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) confirmed that it had reached a similar deal with the European Union, and would be working with the bloc on solutions to the long-running dispute.
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“This is fantastic news for Walpole’s members, and is testament to the tenacity of Liz Truss (Britain’s secretary of state for international trade) in mediating on behalf of the British brands which support so many jobs throughout the U.K.,” said Helen Brocklebank, chief executive officer of Walpole.
“We look forward now to success in reaching a negotiated settlement resulting in the permanent removal of these punitive tariffs, which should never have been inflicted on the luxury sector, and to the removal of the threat of 25 per cent tariffs in retaliation by the U.S. over digital services taxes.”
The U.K. is currently working with the G7, the G20 and the OECD on a standardized tax framework for digital giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook that should be finalized by the end of 2021.
In a joint U.S.-U.K. statement issued on June 17, both countries said they would “work together” to overcome any disagreements in the (large civil aircraft) sector and to counter non-market practices.” The countries said their new agreement is a model “for ensuring fair competition and addressing challenges posed by non-market economies,” such as China.
The statement said the two countries would establish a working group on large civil aircraft, to be led by each side’s respective minister responsible for trade.
The trade ministers will consult at least yearly, while the working group will meet on request, or at least every six months. The two countries also said they plan to share information regarding cybersecurity concerns, and how to tackle the challenges of non-market competition in the Large Civil Aircraft Sector.
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