Start Of Formal UK And US Trade Negotiations

Business Round-Up – 4 May 2020
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Start Of Formal UK And US Trade Negotiations

Liz Truss

Talks between the UK and the US on a post-Brexit trade agreement are to get underway today.

The early negotiations will take place by video conference, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the first round of talks expected to last two weeks and further sessions approximately every six weeks. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and the US trade representative Robert Lighthizer will open the talks.

Ministers say they will drive a “hard bargain” as they seek to lower tariffs on exports and boost trade in services but Labour warns food standards and workers’ rights could be “sacrificed”.

Although US President Donald Trump has said he hopes to negotiate a quick deal, international trade agreements typically take many years to complete.

The UK government has estimated that eliminating tariffs and reducing other trade barriers with the US could boost the economy by between 0.07% and 0.16% over the next five years, depending on the exact terms.

But critics of Brexit say improved terms with the US cannot compensate for a more economically distant relationship with the EU, with whom the UK is negotiating a new trading relationship after its exit on 31 January.

Commenting on the news, Dr Liz Cameron OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

 “This is great news. While the majority of Scottish businesses are focusing on the immediate crisis which COVID-19 has presented us with, it is vital that we continue to balance the need to keep our foot on the accelerator with regard to International Trade negotiations. 

“Europe and the USA are key targets for us to sell Scottish products therefore critical to supporting Scotland’s recovery.

“The government has set a high ambition for talks with the USA. The devil is in the detail and it is therefore important to increase the pace over the coming months to ensure tangible benefits for Scotland.

“SCC is part of the UK’s Strategic Trade Advisory Group and have been already contributing to this particular trade agreement, with others to follow.”

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