British diplomats are urging US lawmakers to talk about trade as the Biden administration slows down talks around a bilateral trade deal.
The British Embassy in Washington plans to distribute reports to each member of Congress detailing the impact of US-UK trade relations on their constituents. The effort comes as Britain strives to strike a trade deal with the United States and resolve trade disputes that began under the old President TrumpDonald Trump Biden Prepares To Face Putin Biden Aims To Boost Shady Ties With Turkey In First Erdoğan Meeting Senate inquiry into insurgency fails MORE.
“You negotiate deals with the administration, but then Congress has to approve them,” Antony Phillipson, British trade commissioner for North America and consul general in New York, told The Hill. “These reports are part of the storytelling opportunity with key members of Congress on the importance of trade relations with the UK.”
Embassy reports show that the Speaker of the House Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: “No intention” to abandon Democrats’ infrastructure goals Senate insurgency inquiry fails Ocasio-Cortez: “The old way of doing politics” influences Manchin’s thinking MOREThe district of (D-Calif.) Exported $ 1.1 billion in services to the UK in 2019, making Britain its district’s largest export market that year.
Majority leader in the Senate Mitch mcconnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell What Democrats Should Do To Achieve True Bipartism Democrats Consider Overhaul Of Election Bill McConnell Seeks To Divide And Conquer Democrats MOREThe home state of (R-Ky.) Exported $ 3.5 billion worth of goods to the UK in 2019, according to embassy data. The Kentucky whiskey industry has been hit hard by tariffs put in place by the UK and the European Union in 2018 in response to former President Trump’s steel tariffs.
“We wanted to be able to tell the story locally,” said Phillipson, adding that UK officials also share business connections with local politicians and influential business associations.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President BidenJoe Biden Biden Prepares to Face Putin Ukrainian President thanks G-7 countries for statement of support Biden aims to strengthen troubled relations with Turkey at first Erdoğan meeting MORE met Thursday ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall. They signed a new version of the Atlantic Charter dating back to World War II, pledging to tackle climate change, strengthen democratic institutions and deepen the trading partnership of nations.
Johnson has promised a speedy trade deal with the United States after Britain exits the European Union. But Biden insisted he was focusing on domestic issues, and members of his administration played down the chances of an imminent deal.
A handful of US lawmakers are boosting Britain’s trade push. Senator Rob portmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanPelosi: ‘No intention’ to abandon Democrats’ infrastructure goals What Democrats should do to achieve true two-party politics The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Two-party group reaches agreement on infrastructure; many questions remain MORE (R-Ohio), a former US trade official under former President George W. Bush, urged Biden’s senior trade official to negotiate a trade deal with the UK at a hearing last month.
In response, the United States Trade Representative Katherine taiKatherine TaiUS, Taiwan to Discuss Trade and Investment, Says Blinken On The Money: May Jobs Report Comes At A Turning Point On Biden’s Agenda | Biden and top GOP negotiator agree to continue infrastructure negotiations on Friday USTR announces tariff suspension in six countries after digital tax inquiries hinted Britain must resolve its battle with the European Union over the Northern Ireland border before trade talks can move forward.
Johnson this week pledged to honor the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace between the UK and Ireland. Biden warned Johnson of escalating tensions with Ireland by reestablishing a hard border, and the Senate unanimously passed a resolution in March declaring that any US-UK trade deal must abide by the rules set out in the decades-old agreement.
“I hear a lot of concerns from members of Congress about the situation in Northern Ireland,” US Trade Representative Katherine Tai told lawmakers at a hearing last month. “This is something we are keeping an eye on in terms of progress with the UK on a deal.”
Lawmakers also pushed the Biden administration to settle a trade dispute with the UK that began under former President Trump. Britain continues to levy a 25% tariff on imports of American whiskey in response to Trump’s tariffs on British steel.
In April, the Rep. Jean YarmutJohn Allen Yarmuth Progressives push back criticism of Biden’s budget Democrats see political winner in tax battle McConnell hits out at Kentucky Democrat for his support for filibuster ban MORE (D-Ky.) And Andy BarrAndy BarrUS, Taiwan to discuss trade, investment, Blinken says Taiwan urges US on COVID-19 vaccines GOP lawmakers ask Acting Inspector General to investigate John Kerry MORE (R-Ky.), Along with 48 other lawmakers, called on Biden to end the tariffs. They noted that the whiskey industry’s imports into the UK had fallen 53% since the tariffs were imposed.
“In the absence of urgent measures to completely suspend these tariffs, American whiskey will remain at a serious competitive disadvantage in our two most important export markets, and we fear that many artisanal distillers may be bankrupted.” , wrote the lawmakers.
Those tariffs were expected to double by June 1, but both sides agreed to halt the increase after a bipartisan group of senators called on Biden to strike a deal.
Industry groups representing distillers, retailers and importers have aggressively lobbied Biden over whiskey tariffs. The Toasts Not Tariffs coalition sent a letter to Biden last week urging him to “secure a return to duty-free bilateral trade in distilled spirits.”
The alcohol industry is at odds with the Steel Trade Groups, which sent a letter to Biden last month asking him to keep Trump’s tariffs intact. The pro-tariff effort is backed by the United Steelworkers union, which has backed Biden’s 2020 campaign. In his first week in office, Biden appointed a steelworker union official, Jim Frederick, to head the Labor Department’s workplace safety agency.
At an AFL-CIO town hall Thursday, Tai said she was “optimistic” that the Biden administration could find a solution to the trade dispute.