The UK-US joint declaration
Securing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US has been an eager post-Brexit ambition for the UK Government. But to date, the UK and the US signed a Mutual Recognition Agreement, which is essentially a continuation of the EU-US bilateral agreement. US reluctance has stemmed from controversy surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol, and Trump-era tariffs imposed on the steel industry.
But on Tuesday, UK Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan and US Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai met in Maryland to explore how to further the UK-US international trading priorities.
They hosted various roundtables with relevant stakeholders to discuss how closer collaboration can promote innovation and inclusive economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic.
Both parties are committed to supporting SMEs in trade and investment; harnessing the benefits of an open and competitive digital economy; strengthening supply chains; protecting labour rights; transitioning to a decarbonised economy to protect our environment, and equality across all areas.
A significant milestone in our relationship is the US announcement at that meeting of a partial removal of section 232 tariffs, which imposed a 25% tariff on steel exports from Britain to the US and a 10% tariff on aluminium under President Trump. The US and UK will work together in this area closely moving forwards.
The US is the UK’s largest trading partner. In 2020, trade between the two was worth £210 billion, making up 17% of the UK’s total trade. Furthermore, the UK steel industry is strong, contributing £2 billion to the UK economy, with the steel and aluminium sector combined employing around 80,000 people. The UK steel industry will be keen to take advantage of the opportunity to sell more to the US when tariffs are reduced.
This joint statement is therefore a very positive step for UK businesses. Though it may not be a FTA, continued dialogue with our largest partner on such important issues to our trading relationship is certainly progress.