White wine

Californian wine could be hit by new tariffs under the proposals

American wine, chocolate and lobsters could soon face tariffs when arriving in the UK under new proposals being considered by the British government.

The move is part of British plans to rebalance the list of US goods targeted in an ongoing trade dispute over steel and aluminium.

The Trump administration introduced tariffs on EU steel and aluminium in 2018, prompting Brussels to respond with retaliatory measures on imports such as whiskey and tobacco.

The UK incorporated these into its post-Brexit tariff system last year and is now looking to review the list of products. The trade department said the changes will help to ensure the tariffs are “tailored to the needs of the UK economy”.

The UK imported £224m of wine from the US and £31m of chocolate. Grapes, wheat and orange juice are also under consideration for new tariffs. 

The proposals are part of a new public consultation to help shape the government’s strategy in de-escalating trade tensions.

While trade secretary Liz Truss said she wants to “de-escalate” the dispute, the proposals could affect the easing of tensions between the UK and the US since Joe Biden came to office.

The trans-Atlantic trade wars have proved costly to the food and drink industry. Scotch whisky in particular was hard hit, with US tariffs of 25% subsidies costing the industry an estimated half a billion pounds. This was halted in March for four months to give British and American negotiators time to agree a deal.