UK signs sixth state-level deal with Washington State

Tue 26 Sept 2023
Posted by: Phil Adnett
Trade News

Washington State flag

The UK signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the US state of Washington yesterday (25 September), the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) has announced.

The MoU is the sixth agreement between the UK and a US state, with the government having previously signed deals with Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah.

Industry minister Nusrat Ghani will travel to Seattle to formally sign the agreement with Washington State governor Jay Inslee.

Ghani called the announcement a “win for the UK”:

“Each US state is a massive global market in its own right, and many have economies larger than the GDP of whole countries. By notching up our sixth such deal we’ve surpassed the £2trn mark for combined GDP of states who’ve done a deal with the UK, with many more in our sights.”

‘Powerful’ MoUs

Marco Forgione, director general of the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT), said:

“The MoUs that the government is securing with the individual states are really powerful.

“What's great about them is that they are each unique and distinctive based on the profile of the state itself.”

Washington hosts the headquarters of a number of high-profile tech companies, including Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon, and has a so-called ‘space cluster’, featuring high-tech manufacturers such as Spaceflight, SpaceX and Aerojet.

Aerospace ‘a priority’

DBT hopes that the MoU will increase the number of deals between the UK and Washington state and said that aerospace will be a “priority sector” under the agreement.

Inslee said:

“[The] MoU makes the UK Washington’s latest global partner in trade and innovation focused on clean technology and industry.”

DBT claims that it is “actively engaging” with other states, including Texas, California and Colorado.

Ghani told Reuters that Florida was “next on the list”, adding that it should be concluded “shortly”.

Colorado governor Jared Polis has already announced his intention to pursue a deal.

No sign of the feds

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

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

The government has since downplayed the possibility of a federal trade deal, with PM Rishi Sunak explicitly ruling it out during his recent visit to the US.

Nicholas Thomas-Symonds, former shadow trade secretary, previously stated that links between the Labour Party and Biden’s Democratic Party would help make the UK “powerful allies” of the US, including “signing trade agreements”.