Trade minister calls on US to partner with Britain in rousing speech invoking American independence

Thu 16 Dec 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Trade minister Penny Mordaunt compared Britain’s break with the EU to American independence as she urged the US to “awaken to an opportunity” to collaborate with Britain.

Speaking to an audience at the World Affairs Council of Atlanta this week, Mordaunt said that Britain’s departure from the EU was not “an act of self-harm” but “a massive opportunity to anyone who believes in democracy and the power of trade as a force for good in the world”.

“When America set itself free [from Britain in 1776], it was a small economy,” she said. “It is my hope that our move will act as a catalyst of greater trade liberalisation around the world.”

Mordaunt’s speech called on the US to work with Britain to reform world trade, tackling the “market-distorting practices, such as harmful state subsidies and more other pernicious government interventions”.

State deals

The minister is touring the US to drum up trade with individual US states in the absence of a free trade deal between Britain and the US.

She said discussions were underway to sign Memoranda of Understanding with states to liberalise regulations and increase partnerships in key growth areas, including professional business services.

“This is not a replacement of an ambitious and future-facing trade deal between the UK and the US, but a complementary and helpful step to making sure we can take full advantage of existing and future opportunities,” she added. 

Criticism of Mordaunt’s speech argued that it came across as “begging” for a US trade by a campaign group, which warns that it shows the “desperation” of the government, reports the Independent.

“It’s embarrassing for the government who said the US would be clamouring for a deal to now be begging for one,” said Naomi Smith of Best for Britain.

LA record

Meanwhile, the biggest port in the US is on track for a record volume of import cargo this year, despite supply chain crisis, reports ABC News.

The Port of Los Angeles is expected to have imported about 5.5 million container units of cargo this year – a 13% jump over the previous record set in 2018. 

“The sustained and unmatched demand by the American consumer is pushing our import numbers to new levels,” said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.

Two months ago, US president Joe Biden announced a deal to establish around-the-clock operations at the Los Angeles port.

Cargo containers are moving off the docks faster but nearly 100 ships are still waiting to unload at the port or its neighbouring sister port in Long Beach.