- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2020

The spirits of the season may soon be more affordable as U.S. and U.K. trade negotiators work toward a deal that would bring down tariffs on a range of goods, including prized Scottish whisky.

Outgoing U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer struck an optimistic note in an interview with the BBC over talks on a mini-trade deal to roll back some tariffs on goods between the two countries.

The accord could be one of the first fruits of Britain’s new freedom to strike trade deals as the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson negotiates the terms of the Brexit divorce from the European Union. Brexit backers have long argued that London would have far more leeway to strike favorable free-trade deals if it were no longer tied to EU trade policies.

Just this week, the Johnson government dropped out of the EU plan to impose tariffs on American aerospace giant Boeing, after the Trump administration had previously targeted European rival Airbus. The U.S. punitive tariffs included sharply higher import duties on British goods such as whisky and woolen products.

“I’m hopeful we can get some kind of an agreement out. You know, we don’t have a lot of time left,” Mr. Lighthizer told the BBC.

Asked specifically about easing the 25% punitive tariffs on Scottish whisky and cashmere, the U.S. trade chief said, “We are in discussions, we’ll see how that works out.”

But he added the U.S. side was looking for bigger concessions — especially on access to agricultural markets — if London wants a more far-reaching bilateral free-trade agreement.

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