US Tariffs: EU Countermeasures

International Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th June 2018.

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Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall 12:00 am, 28th June 2018

What assessment he has made of the proportionality of the EU’s countermeasures to US tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade

While we sympathise with US concerns regarding transparency and the overproduction of steel, we continue to argue that tariffs applied under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act are not an appropriate solution for dealing with these issues. We will continue to seek a constructive, permanent resolution with the United States to avoid further escalation, which would only harm businesses, jobs and consumers in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall

After we have left the EU and turned our back on our trading partners, what steps will the Secretary of State’s Department take to ensure that the UK can stand up to aggressive trade practices?

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade

Far from turning our back on any trading partners, we are seeking a full, transparent, comprehensive and liberal trading agreement with the European Union, and we will seek others. When it comes to protecting British industries, we can do that only when we have a trade remedies authority in place, and I have to remind the hon. Gentleman that he and his party voted against the Trade Bill, which establishes that authority.

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (International Trade)

The Secretary of State’s reluctance to support EU countermeasures to combat Trump’s trade war, and the Government’s opposition to every amendment that we proposed to the Trade Bill and the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill, speak volumes about his Government’s true intentions. When will he give the trade remedies authority the board members it will need if it is to stand up for UK businesses and consumers? And when will he put an end to the impression that the UK’s Secretary of State would rather back Donald Trump’s policy of America first?

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade

That question was wrong on so many issues that I do not know where to start. Rather than being against countermeasures, the United Kingdom supported the European Union—as I have done several times in this House—in saying that we believed that what the United States did was incompatible with WTO law and that we were therefore against it. And it is the height of cheek to demand that the Government should put members on a board that the Labour party tried to prevent us from establishing in the first place.