UK-US trade talks to begin in March

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on March 2nd 2020, 10:10am

The UK government has set out its position ahead of talks for a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, with negotiations expected to begin later in March.

The talks will run in parallel with negotiations over a future trade deal with the EU.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has said that the UK will “drive a hard bargain” in the US talks, while a government statement adds that a trade deal will boost the UK economy by £3.4 billion.

Johnson said: “We're going to drive a hard bargain to boost British industry.

"Trading Scottish smoked salmon for Stetson hats, we will deliver lower prices and more choice for our shoppers."

Frances O'Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, has raised concerns that a bad trade deal with the US will "put working people's jobs and rights on the line", adding that it would "undermine our vital public services, environment and food standards".

However, the government’s statement says that the US trade deal will bring added benefit to Scotland, the north-east of England and the Midlands, while pledging to maintain food standards and reiterating that the NHS will not be on the table.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, international trade secretary Liz Truss said: "We will not diminish our food safety standards and we will also not put the NHS on the table, or the price the NHS pays for drugs on the table.

"Those are two very clear red lines in our trade deal.”

Addressing talks that will begin with the EU on Monday, Truss promised that the UK would not budge on its stance on fishing rights, with the UK wanting a quota deal in spite of the EU's desire for continued access to UK waters.

Truss said: "We are not going to trade away our fishing in a deal with the EU or any other negotiating partner.

"We are going to get a deal with the EU that does not involve selling out our fishing.”

The EU remains the UK's largest trading partner, having accounted for 45 per cent of all British exports and 53 per cent of imports in 2018.

In the same year, the US accounted for 19 per cent of all exports from the UK and 11 per cent of imports, making it Britain's second largest trading partner.

Director general of the Confederation of British Industry, Carolyn Fairbairn, said that the government’s plans to “support small business exporters” and “make it easier for skilled people to move between the UK and US” under the deal was “encouraging”.

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Authored By

Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
March 2nd 2020, 10:10am

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