When the US today announced steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU, Mexico, and Canada, it also offered a warning about Britain’s future in trade negotiations.
Donald Trump’s administration announced that it would no longer exempt the EU from 25% duties on steel, and 10% on aluminum. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker declared today as “a bad day for world trade.”
Britain now faces an even greater task in sealing a trade deal with the EU, once it leaves the bloc on March 29, 2019. While the UK will still have a transition period of 21 months after this date to adjust to a new legal and political landscape, it will have to negotiate new trade deals for itself.
The UK has set its heart on sealing a deal with the US ever since the nation voted for Brexit.
But if Trump is willing to start a trade war with its biggest trading partners Canada and Mexico, as well as the EU, it’s unlikely he’d do any favors for Britain. “US tariffs will serve as another reminder that Trump might have populist sympathies for Brexit, but that his anti-trade course poses questions about his willingness to strike a UK-US trade agreement post Brexit quickly,” says Carsten Nickel, deputy director of research at Teneo Intelligence.
After all, the US exports less than 4% of its goods to the UK. Meanwhile, British exports to the US comprise around 15% of the UK’s total exports, according to data from the International Trade Centre.