New UK-US 'dialogues' to bolster transatlantic trade despite FTA negotiations still being on hold

Thu 17 Mar 2022
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News


uk us trade

The UK and US are to commence talks next week with a view to building on their £200bn trade relationship.

A series of “transatlantic dialogues” will bring together ministers, senior officials, trade unions, businesses and civil society from the UK and US.

The first event takes place in Baltimore on 21-22 March with a follow up hosted in the UK later in the spring, the DIT announced.

Trade ambition

Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said the aim of the events is make it even easier, quicker and more cost-effective to do transatlantic trade, while tackling pressing challenges like congested supply chains and climate change.

“This new UK-US dialogue is a symbol of our ambition to work even closer with businesses and workers to promote innovation, inclusive economic growth and support jobs on both sides of the Atlantic,” she said.

The talks stem from president Biden and Boris Johnson’s announcement last year of a new ‘Atlantic Charter’ commitment between the two nations.

Engage stakeholders

United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the ‘UK-US Dialogues on the Future of Atlantic Trade’ would be an “open-minded and deep discussion on how we can advance smarter and more strategic trade between our two countries”.

“These dialogues will provide an opportunity to engage our stakeholders to help inform how an inclusive trade policy can promote equitable economic growth and prosperity for our two countries,” she added.

According to Reuters, the talks are expected to cover collaboration on easing supply-chain congestion, decarbonising the economies of the countries, digital trade, supporting domestic workforces and labour rights.

Deal stalled

Hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US stalled last year, after Joe Biden was sworn in as president, reports City AM.

Despite a series of negotiating rounds the Trump administration, signing new trade deals is not currently a priority for Biden.

Protocol stumbling block

Biden has told Boris Johnson that a full free trade agreement cannot be done until the UK drops its rhetoric on the Northern Ireland Protocol, reports the Express.

The US is a guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement and has expressed concern that the UK’s dispute with the EU over the protocol could affect peace in Northern Ireland.

While Biden has so far refused to authorise the start of negotiations, the opening of the transatlantic trade dialogue could help increase trade between the two close partners, which is worth £200bn.

Mini deals

With no imminent sign of a nationwide US trade deal, the UK is prioritising trade deals with individual US states like California and New York.

Trade minister Penny Mordaunt is currently negotiating with governors across America in a bid to close mini-trade deals with individual US states.

Agreements between the UK and an individual state would not remove tariffs on goods, but they could make it easier for British companies and professionals to operate in the US.

Other talking points

The DIT has also achieved break throughs on other trade areas including:

  • removing restrictions on Welsh lamb and Scottish beef
  • reaching an understanding on the longstanding Airbus-Boeing dispute to remove 25% tariffs on Scotch whisky and other goods
  • launching talks to end US tariffs on UK steel and aluminium