Britain to set out mandate for post-Brexit US deal


The UK will publish its objectives for trade talks with the US on Monday, seeking an “ambitious” deal with tariff-free access on goods and services while protecting standards and shielding the National Health Service.The Department for International Trade has consulted businesses and arms of civil society to draw up the mandate that seeks a deal that will “[promote] increased goods and services trade and greater cross-border investment”. Negotiations will begin later this month, with rounds taking place in the UK and US.The Johnson government says it is seeking to “rigorously protect” public services, including the NHS, and maintain high standards for consumers and workers — including on food and animal welfare. Both areas are likely to prove points of contention with American negotiators. Prime minister Boris Johnson said the UK would not buckle to US demands, stating it had “the best negotiators in the business” and would seek to “drive a hard bargain to boost British industry”. “Trading Scottish smoked salmon for Stetson hats, we will deliver lower prices and more choice for our shoppers. Most importantly, this transatlantic trade deal will reflect the unique closeness of our two great nations,” he said.Liz Truss, international trade secretary and political lead for the UK-US trade talks, said the deal represented “one of the key opportunities” resulting from leaving the EU.“This deal with our biggest single trading partner will cut red tape for our small businesses, cut tariffs for our great products from dairy to cars, and increase growth in all four nations.” 

Striking a free-trade agreement with the US is seen as a great prize by Brexit advocates, increasing economic and trading ties between both countries. But the government’s economic analysis suggested any economic gains would be negligible.A cross-Whitehall analysis from 2018 suggested that a US free-trade deal would only increase UK GDP by 0.2 per cent over 15 years. This represents a tiny fraction of the 2 to 8 per cent cost of Brexit in the same period.In a counter to this narrative, the government will release a new analysis on Monday that claims a UK-US trade deal could boost the economy by £3.4bn thanks to an increase in trade flows by £15.3bn.Mike Cherry, chair of the Federation of Small Businesses group, said there was a “sheer scale of ambition” to be unleashed by a free trade deal with the US.“As the FTA moves forward, we are working with the Department for International Trade to make sure SMEs are front of mind. The success of the UK economy rests on inspiring more small businesses to go global, and trade around the world.” The Johnson government will soon set out its negotiating objectives for trade deals with Australia, Japan and New Zealand. It aims to have 80 per cent of trade covered by free-trade agreements by 2022.


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