US-UK trade deal hopes dashed – won’t happen for at least two years, warn insiders

Brexit: World 'knocking on our door' insists Liz Truss

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The UK had been hoping to tie up a groundbreaking deal this year – but in order to have been fast tracked through Congress by US President Joe Biden, an agreement would have had to be struck by July 1. Mr Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the matter at last month’s G7 summit, with an official summary of their meeting stating that they had agreed on a “progression” towards a trade deal which “would create jobs and bring new opportunities to both of our countries”.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss today travelled to the US for a series of meetings aimed at paving the way for an agreement.

A source close to Ms Truss told the Sunday Telegraph: “Liz is playing the long game and wants to build a much broader base of support for a deal in the US domestic market, which is why we’re heading to California as well as DC.

“We want the backing of the American public, key industries like tech, and the political class, and Liz is out there to get that and bang the drum for Britain.”

The visit will be her first to the US since the election of Mr Biden.

She had previously held five rounds of talks with officials working for Donald Trump, Mr Biden’s predecessor, but the Biden administration is reviewing everything which has been discussed up to now.

Speaking to the Conservative Home website in March, Ms Truss, who has already unveiled deals with countries including Japan, Canada and Australia, struck an optimistic note.

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She explained: “My view of the US deal is there’s a good deal to be done.

“We’ve made huge amounts of progress and we’ve agreed the majority of text and the majority of chapters.”

She added: “Now, I need to speak to the United States Trade Representative, Katharine Tai, about what the appropriate timeline is for us to negotiate that deal a lot.

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“And of course, that is something that needs to be agreed with both parties.

“But I think it would be a fantastic sign, as we seek to roll back protectionism and as we seek to grow the economy after COVID for our two nations to continue with those trade negotiations and reach a conclusion.”

At the time, Julian Jessop, an economics fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) think tank, suggested a deal could push the total value of the goods trade with the US up by as much as ten percent – and beyond £250billion.

He told Express.co.uk: “The US is already our biggest single trading partner, unless you lump all the EU countries together.

“In 2019, UK trade with the US – again, exports plus imports – was worth about £230 billion.

“It might be harder to get a 10 percent net gain here, given the already high starting point, but even five percent would be worth about £12 billion a year.”

The European Union remains the UK’s largest trading partner – but its importance is shrinking.

In 2019, it accounted for 43 percent of UK exports of goods and services and 52 percent of the UK’s imports, House of Commons Library figures from November of last year show.

Twenty years earlier, the EU’s accounted for 55 percent of the UK’s total trade.

The House of Commons Library report added: “Looking at individual countries, the US is the UK’s largest trading partner.

“The UK exported £141 billion of goods and services to the US in 2019, 21 percent of all exports.

“This was more than double the value of exports to Germany, the UK’s second largest export market (£56billion).”

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