US and UK start talks on deepening trade and investment links

Congressional leader warns that if the NI border “hardened”, there would be no US-UK trade deal

The United States and Britain will this week open talks aimed at deepening trade and investment links between the two countries.

Securing a bi-lateral free trade agreement with the US has been a high priority for the UK since it left the European Union. However the Biden administration had indicated that its focus was on its domestic agenda.

US media has reported recently that the Biden administration now wants to strengthen economic ties with friendly nations in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and China's growing influence in setting rules and standards for global trade and technology

A US/UK trade accord has, however, been complicated by concerns among senior political figures in the US Congress about the Northern Ireland border and any moves by the British government that could undermine the Good Friday agreement.

Only last Wednesday at the Ireland Funds gala dinner on the eve of St Patrick's Day, House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that if the Northern Ireland border "hardened", there would be no US-UK trade deal.

Under US law trade agreements are negotiated by the administration. However they must be ratified by Congress.

First dialogue

On Monday, United States trade representative Katherine Tai and UK secretary of state for international trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan will host the first part of planned joint dialogues on the future of Atlantic trade.

A second round of discussions will take place later in the spring in Britain.

The UK government said last week that the events would “bring together government ministers, senior officials, trade unions, businesses and civil society from both sides to discuss ways the UK and US can work together to deepen our trading relationship”.

Ambassador Tai said: "I am pleased to welcome secretary Trevelyan to Baltimore as we begin an open-minded and deep discussion on how we can advance smarter and more strategic trade between our two countries.

"The United Kingdom is one of our oldest and most trusted allies, and our partnership is rooted in shared values and priorities. These dialogues will provide an opportunity to engage our stakeholders to help inform how an inclusive trade policy can promote equitable economic growth and prosperity for our two countries."

Ms Trevelyan said the US was the UK’s biggest trading partner. The UK is the US’s seventh-largest trading partner for goods, with $118 billion in combined exports and imports in 2021 .

The UK is understood to be America’s largest services trading partner with bi-lateral business worth about $115 billion in 2020.