Sunak and Biden agree historic ‘Atlantic Declaration’ to boost UK-US ties

President Biden momentarily forgets Rishi Sunak’s job title

The Prime Minister and US President signed up to a new partnership, the Atlantic Declaration, that will also help shield British firms from American protectionism.

But hopes of a full blown free trade deal that takes advantage of Britain’s Brexit freedoms are now dead in the water.

At the start of face to face talks in the Oval office, the President told reporters the special relationship is in “real good shape”.

He said that the US did not have a “closer ally” than the UK.

The UK government insists the declaration sets up relations between the two nations for the future and focuses on future challenges, rather than looking to the past.

Mr Sunak said the Atlantic Declaration “sets a new standard for economic cooperation” that will help “protect our people, create jobs and grow our economies together”.

Speaking at the White House, he praised the “indispensable alliance” between the two nations.

“The relationship between our two nations is unlike any other.

“Our alliance is so strong because it is not abstract – it is rooted in our people. And it’s never been about our history alone, but our ability to grasp the future.

“We share the same beliefs, pursue the same purpose, and act according to the same ideals.

“And that’s why today, as we meet the challenges of our time, we can depend upon each other with absolute conviction.

“When the United States and the United Kingdom stand together, the world is a safer, better, and more prosperous place.

“That’s why ours is the indispensable alliance.”

The declaration helps mitigate some of the worst impacts of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which imposed a series of protectionist measures that harmed UK industries.

It will boost British defence companies’ ability to win US government contracts and make it easier to import and export the minerals used in the production of products including electric car batteries and solar panels.

The deal will also allow British and American engineers to work in both countries without needing extra qualifications and cut red tape for small firms relating to computer data.

But it puts an end to any hope in the near future of a full trade deal, with British officials insisting the global situation has changed and it is their preference to focus on the declaration.

The agreement could allow British manufacturers to qualify for some of the subsidies American firms are entitled to under the US president’s protectionist plan.

Hitting back at claims he had failed in his bid to secure a Free Trade Agreement, Mr Sunak said: “Be in no doubt, the economic relationship has never been stronger. The trade between our countries is worth hundreds of millions of pounds and dollars every year.”

He insisted: “Our agreement today focuses on the particular challenges we face and opportunities we have.”

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Mr Biden said the economic agreement puts the two nations on a path to deal with the challenges facing the 21st century, such as increasing threats from Russia and China.

He said: “Today in Washington, we’ve had important and positive discussions to deepen our bilateral economic relationship and expand our co-operation to shape the challenges of the future for the remainder of this century.

“It’s a testament to the depth, breadth and I would argue the intensity of our co-operation and coordination which continues to exist between the United Kingdom and the United States.

“There’s no issue of global importance – none – that our nations are not leading together and we’re not just sharing our common values to make things better.”

Mr Biden has committed to ask Congress to approve the UK as a “domestic source” under US defence procurement laws, allowing for greater American investment in British firms.

The US President, who will play a crucial role in who becomes the next Nato secretary general said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace would be “very qualified” for the role.

Mr Sunak raised Mr Wallace’s bid to take over at Nato during their bilateral meeting.

Asked if was time for a British alliance chief, he responded: “Maybe.

“That remains to be seen. We’re going to have to get a consensus within NATO to see that happen.

“They have a candidate who is a very qualified individual.

“But we’re gonna have a lot of discussion between us, but in NATO to determine what the outcome of that will be.”

Work will be carried out to improve the resilience of supply chains and efforts will be stepped up to shut Vladimir Putin’s Russia out of the global civil nuclear market.

A deal on data protection will ease burdens for small firms doing transatlantic trade, potentially saving £92 million.

Mr Sunak, who was on his first official White House visit, also met 100 industry leaders at a business roundtable chaired by General Motors boss Mary Barra.

Asked about his hope for trade between the UK and US, Mr Sunak said the relationship between the two countries is “very strong.”

“My job is to convince you that that’s the right decision not just for today, but for years into the future as well.”

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