It’s Time to Restart Trade Talks Between the US and UK. Here’s Why.
1 May 2020
Trade talks between the UK and US were due to start in March but joined the long list of important government projects that have been impacted by the global health crisis.
The overwhelming priority for the US and UK government for the last 6 weeks has been the health crisis itself, closely followed by the massive economic impact on businesses, individuals and public services. And while this work rightly remains at the top of the agenda it is also important to spend time on what comes next.
Close to the top of this list should be restarting trade talks between the US and UK. The economic relationship between these two allies is huge; transatlantic trade in goods is worth over $127bn annually, and trade in services over $134bn. The US and UK also share one of the largest bi-lateral investment relationships in the world, valued at over $1.3tn. This relationship is a source of prosperity and security, directly supporting almost 3 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, and many millions more indirectly. This impact is felt in every state of the USA and every nation and region of the UK.
Our analysis of the negotiating objectives published by both sides before the lockdown suggests there is a lot of common ground on the big issues and a chance to create a genuinely tariff-free/quota free environment for goods, improve regulatory dialogue and cooperation, and set global standards on digital trade and financial services. We also sense real support for a comprehensive agreement with the UK from Congress which will need to endorse any agreement reached.
Of course, there were points of difference and the health crisis has not meant these have gone. In some cases, they may no longer seem so important, in others events may have contributed to a change in thinking, but in all cases these felt like issues that could be negotiated with goodwill on both sides.
In a post-Covid world there will be calls for reduced international trade and greater protection for domestic businesses and workers; through a full and comprehensive trade agreement, the US and UK have the chance to demonstrate that trade, free and fair, continues to be the driver of economic growth, jobs and prosperity that it has been throughout history and set a new benchmark for quality in Trade Agreements. They should restart the talks.
Chief Executive Officer