The UK has signed its second US-state trade and economic agreement, concluding a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with North Carolina.
In a similar manner to the MoU signed with Indiana in May of this year, the agreement will look to tackle unnecessary trade barriers, cut costs, and slash paperwork to the benefit of both UK and North Carolinian businesses.
It will boost collaboration in areas such as clean tech and energy infrastructure; enable the sharing of ideas, skills, and knowledge; support public and private partnerships; and drive capital investment, the government said in a statement.
The partnership will seek to accelerate growth in green trade in particular, especially in electric vehicles and offshore wind facilities.
Trade minister Penny Mordaunt said North Carolina was recently named America’s top state for business.
“Our state-level work shows we can be dynamic and creative with our trade partners. Whilst we continue engaging with Washington DC, we’re speaking to businesses and political leaders right across America – from North Carolina to California – to grow our already £200bn trade relationship,” she added.
Targets for trade
North Carolina is the ninth largest state in the US in terms of population, with a GDP of almost $550bn.
Its biggest city, Charlotte, is the second largest financial centre in the US after New York, and the Piedmont region is famous for its world-leading clinical research hub, the Triangle, The Times reports
The state already buys $1.6bn of goods from the UK: this makes the UK the 12th largest export market for North Carolina, Mordaunt wrote in The Telegraph.
International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan told a parliamentary international agreements committee last week that the UK was looking to strike about half a dozen pacts with states in the US this year.
Mordaunt previously told City AM that she was “hopeful” an official UK-US negotiating round will happen this year and that there was now a “real head of steam” after talks stalled last year.
She claimed state-level negotiations had helped thaw relations with the White House, after talks over a post-Brexit trade deal stalled when Joe Biden became President, as previously covered in the IOE&IT Daily Bulletin.
Critics have doubted the value of the agreements, with David Henig, director of the UK Trade Policy Project, telling the FT “the MoU will be not at all important because nothing will ever be done about it”.
“It could help a few UK businesses, but since we don’t know any details I wouldn’t hope for much. Politicians love signing bits of paper. Whether officials can turn that into anything meaningful remains to be seen,” he added.