Trade deal negotiations with the US will take 'some time' as UK is urged to 'look elsewhere'

Tue 11 May 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

An imminent trade deal between the UK and US remains unlikely after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any agreement would take “some time”.

Blinken said the US’s new trade negotiator, Katherine Tai, would take time to review the discussions that had taken place with the UK under Donald Trump before progressing with further talks.

‘Look elsewhere’

According to a survey in the Express, 93% of its readers think Prime Minster Boris Johnson should “look elsewhere” as US President Joe Biden’s administration continues to indicate that a deal with the UK is not a priority.

The paper even cites some commentators who have labelled the US president “anti-British”.

New focus

The UK – which can negotiate its own free trade agreements as an independent nation having left the EU – is close to completing negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.

The British government also harbours longer-term ambitions to strike a deal with India and to eventually join the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) – a trade pact consisting of 11 Pacific nations including Japan, South Korea and Canada.

Dashed hopes

The UK had hoped a quick trade deal with the US would boost its post-Brexit standing as a newly independent trading nation.

However, the new Biden administration has deprioritised bilateral international trade negotiations while it focuses on rebooting the US’s post-pandemic economy.

Biden wants to ensure any future trade agreements will benefit American workers and their families first, reports the Independent.

Protect the peace

Blinken has also stressed the importance that Biden places on ensuring that the gains of the Northern Ireland peace process continue to be maintained, particularly amid rising tensions between London and Brussels over the implementation of the NI Protocol.

“We want to make sure that, whether it’s with the United Kingdom or the EU, whether it’s anything we’re doing, that we make sure that the tremendous gains from the Good Friday Agreement are sustained and that the economic as well the political wellbeing of Northern Ireland is taken fully into account,” the Evening Standard reports him saying.

Pork market

When talks do eventually restart between the UK and US, the latter’s pig farming industry is likely to push for a greater share of the UK’s pork market.

According to Pig World, US trade body the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) wants to boost its exports to the UK. Of the £1.8bn the UK spends on pork imports each year, the US accounts for only £2.2m.

The NPPC will continue to urge for the elimination of all tariff and non-tariff barriers, and for the UK to embrace CODEX and other international production standards, it reports.


According to the FT, there is growing concern in the UK farming community that its high animal welfare standards will not survive international competition such as that posed by the US in the event of a deal. 

US pork production costs are about half those of in the UK due to intensive rearing methods.

These include the use of sow stalls and growth-enhancing feed additives that are banned under the EU regulations that the UK had to abide by until the transition period ended in January.


Although prospects for a UK-US trade deal seem remote, the two parties remain in dialogue over ending the Airbus-Boeing trade dispute, with the US suspending tariffs that were introduced by the Trump administration on UK exports such as whisky, cheese and cashmere.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is next due to meet US trade representative Katherine Tai at the end of this month, according to the Department for International Trade.