Liz Truss kick-starts UK-US trade talks

Economy & Politics | Export | International | Latest News | South East

The UK is today publishing its negotiating objectives for a free trade agreement with the United States, with talks expected to begin this month.

Manufacturers of ceramics, cars and food and drink, and professional services including architects and lawyers are among the British industries expected to be the biggest winners from tariff free access to the US market.

The agreement will deliver for the whole United Kingdom, with Scotland, the North East and the Midlands forecast to benefit most from removing barriers to trade with the US.

Government analysis published today shows that the UK economy will benefit from a £3.4bn boost, as the trade deal will increase transatlantic trade flows by £15.3bn.

The negotiating objectives set out that any future agreement must protect our NHS and uphold our high standards on food safety and animal welfare.

The agreement will also include a chapter on digital trade, to maximise opportunities for businesses to trade digitally across the Atlantic.

On the UK side, talks will be overseen by Crawford Falconer, DIT’s Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser, formerly New Zealand’s Chief Negotiator and Ambassador to the WTO.

He will be supported by a team of negotiators, drawing on expertise from across government and the private sector.

Negotiating rounds will alternate between the UK and US.

The government will set out our negotiating objectives for Australia, Japan and New Zealand shortly, with the aim of having 80% of total UK external trade covered by free trade agreements by 2022.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said: “We have the best negotiators in the business and of course, 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. Most importantly, this transatlantic trade deal will reflect the unique closeness of our two great nations.”

International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss continued: “Striking ambitious free trade agreements with our partners around the world is one of the key opportunities of Britain becoming an independent trading nation once again. This deal with our biggest single trading partner will cut red tape for our small businesses, cut tariffs for our great products from dairy to cars and increase growth in all four nations.”

Impact on SMEs

Mike Cherry, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses

FSB research shows that the United States is the number one individual country that UK small businesses are looking to as they consider where to trade, with 46% of UK SME exporters prioritising the US market over the next three years.

This shows the sheer scale of ambition that will be unleashed, if we can take full advantage of the opportunities a Free Trade Agreement will open up.

As the FTA moves forward, we are working with the Department for International Trade to make sure SMEs are front of mind. The success of the UK economy rests on inspiring more small businesses to go global, and trade around the world.


The CBI has responded to the Government publishing its negotiating objectives for a free trade agreement with the United States. Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “The UK is beginning a brand-new chapter in its global future, and a good trade deal with the US is a vital part of that story.

“It’s encouraging to see the Government’s ambitions to make it easier for skilled people to move between the UK and US, support small business exporters and future-proof any agreement around industries of the future. The US and UK already share the world’s largest bilateral investment relationship; now is the time to use it as a springboard for new jobs and investment here at home.”

Government must focus on ‘bread and butter issues’ in US trade talks

Responding to the publication of the Government’s negotiating objectives for a UK-US free trade agreement, Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors, said: “IoD members are extensively engaged with the US market, and will welcome efforts to deepen the trade ties between our two countries. It’s positive to see the Government setting out details on where opportunity lies, such as in the commitment to include provisions for small and mid-sized companies. We hope this will make any deal user-friendly, ensuring better take-up among smaller firms.

“Negotiating simultaneously with the US and EU brings an unprecedented set of trade-offs and choices that will affect business. To cut through the noise, the Government should focus on the bread and butter issues with Washington that will make the most practical difference on trade away from political headlines, from improving temporary labour mobility to increasing the ease of doing business across state lines.

“Tariffs will no doubt be a big issue, but cutting customs red tape at the border and making digital trade in services easier are the kind of things that will genuinely slash operating costs and substantially increase the scope for trade with America.”

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