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Utah state flag

The UK has today (22 June) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the US state of Utah, the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) has announced.

The MoU, the UK’s fifth state-level deal with a US state, was signed by international trade minister Nigel Huddleston and Utah governor Spencer Cox, with fintech said to be a priority sector in the agreement.

Utah has a GDP of £201bn, equivalent to the economy of New Zealand, and trade between the UK and the western state is said to support tens of thousands of jobs on both sides.

Life sciences and aerospace are also focal points of the deal, as is critical minerals, which DBT says makes the pact a key part of building supply chain resilience.

Huddleston said:

“Our MoU with Utah builds on our existing strong relationship by helping us unlock new opportunities for British businesses, particularly those in the fintech sector in which Britain is a global leader.”

Cox said he hoped the new agreement:

“Will lead to more exchange of best practices, government-led missions, private-sector partnerships, academic cooperation and capital investment, and we look forward to the increased collaboration.”

Wider plans

According to the announcement, the government is currently negotiating similar trade deals with several other US states.

As reported previously by the IOE&IT Daily Update, the UK has already signed state-level agreements with Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Negotiations with California, Florida, New York and Texas are said to be ongoing, and last month Colorado governor Jared Polis announced his intention to pursue a similar deal.

The plan was initially formulated by prime minister Boris Johnson’s administration to build momentum for a wider UK-US trade deal.

However, a trade pact was conspicuously absent from the 'Atlantic Declaration’ signed by PM Rishi Sunak and president Joe Biden earlier this month, which set out the future UK-US joint economic relationship for years to come.

Henriette Gjaerde, trade & customs stakeholder relationship specialist, trade agreements & trade in services at the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT), explained that these deals are important for the UK:

"While they are not equivalent to a full UK-US free trade agreement, these state-level deals do matter as a way of facilitating trade between the two countries. It’s more about communication.

It's about opening up for communication, unlocking export opportunities and strengthening cooperation. “

North Carolina

Today, DBT is also hosting the second working group meeting with North Carolina, led by Lord Offord, minister for exports, and Conor Burns, trade envoy to the US.

The event is said to focus on advancing cooperation in future mobility, workforce development, and advanced manufacturing.

North Carolina governor, Roy Cooper, said it was “positive” that the relationship was being strengthened and that he looked forward to hosting UK representatives in his home state later on.