The US and UK were due to launch trade negotiations by video-conference today (5th May 2020), following the UK’s exit from the European Union.
The talks represent Washington’s first new major trade negotiation in 2020, and take place at the same time as the UK attempt to negotiate trade terms with the EU, with a deadline of the December 2020.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said little publicly about the UK trade talks since publishing a topline set of objectives more than a year ago that sought full access for US agriculture products and reduced tariffs for US manufactured goods.
The Trump administration is looking to shift supply chains back to the United States and away from China is promoting a “Buy American” campaign for medical products and other supplies.
Agriculture is expected to be among the most challenging issues in the talks, given the UK’s strong opposition to US genetically modified crops and anti-bacterial treatments for poultry.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to drive a “hard bargain” and UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has said that Britain would not compromise its food safety standards.
The US Chamber of Commerce, has urged the two historic allies to eliminate all tariffs, saying that would boost the long-term outlook for both countries at a time when their economies have been hard hit by shutdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
The chamber said the two countries also could strengthen global trade rules to deal with challenges posed by non-market economies such as China.
Trade in goods between the United States and United Kingdom was valued at USD $127.1 billion ($197 billion) in 2018, with the two sides roughly in balance, while the services trade topped USD $134.8 billion.
Britain is the seventh-largest US goods trading partner.
The Heritage Foundation, a Washington think-tank, said one area ripe for tariff reduction was in automotive trade, Britain’s largest export sector to the United States.
US passenger car tariffs are 2.5%, with pickup truck tariffs at 25%, while Britain maintain a 10% car tariff.
The talks, expected to last two weeks initially, were scheduled to start with a video-conference call on Tuesday 5th May.
Further rounds will take place every six weeks and will be carried out remotely until it is safe to travel.
Any preferential trade deal between the US and UK will result in increased movement of goods between the two countries and the demand for freight capacity will of course increase. Horizon International, with our long history managing transatlantic supply chains, are ideally placed to support clients with increased demands. With 5 offices in the US and 4 in the UK & Ireland, we offer scheduled ocean consolidation services and daily airfreight solutions to suit every need.
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