Did Liz Truss' call with the new US Trade Representative resurrect hopes of a UK-US trade deal?

Tue 23 Mar 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

uk us trade

Trade Secretary Liz Truss spoke with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai yesterday about the state of UK-US negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal, a government read-out has confirmed. 

They both reflected on the progress made in last year’s talks as well as the importance of continuing to work closely together on areas of common ground including WTO reform, climate change and the future of digital trade and data.

Tariff dispute

Both welcomed moves to de-escalate the long-running Airbus-Boeing subsidies dispute and said they will continue work to find a permanent settlement.

The US suspended tariffs, that had been introduced by the previous Trump administration, for a period of four months – including on exports of Scotch whisky.

Ground-breaking deal

The UK’s ambassador in Washington, Karen Pierce, told Bloomberg that last year’s negotiations between the UK government and former President Trump’s team provided a strong platform for continued talks with President Biden’s administration. 

She said the deal that was being negotiated had the potential to be “ground-breaking” in the areas of e-commerce and data.

“The free trade agreement as it’s drafted would actually be something of a ground-breaking framework for handling digital commerce and data,” she said.

Standards

The news comes as a report from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) concluded that a US trade deal would not lower food standards in the UK, the Grocer reveals

According to the AHDB, the UK “is not likely to be immediately attractive to US exporters” who have “more lucrative and rapidly expanding markets closer to home”.

Hormone-treated beef

Despite the British media’s focus on hormone treated beef, the report says that the majority of US beef production is focused on high-quality, grain-fed beef for domestic and export markets.

However, it says it is unlikely that US beef will be able to compete in the UK market due to issues around logistics and production.

Warning

Nonetheless, major supermarkets and campaigners continue to warn the government not to agree trade deals with countries with poor animal welfare and environmental standards, the Daily Mail reports

Bosses of Waitrose, Co-op and Iceland, food giant Nestle, and TV chefs Jamie Oliver and Prue Leith have urged the government to adopt the recommendations of the Trade and Agriculture Commission, which warned earlier this month that Brexit should not trigger a “race to the bottom” on food standards.