Nigel Huddleston provides update on US trade deal
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Trade minister Nigel Huddleston today insisted Britain is “very keen” to strike a post-Brexit free trade agreement (FTA) with the US. But he said talks have stalled as America is currently not looking to negotiate deals with other countries including the UK.
Mr Huddleston told MPs: “We recognise that the US is not focused on FTAs at present, however, we stand ready to resume negotiations when they are ready.
“And in the meantime, we’re working to improve the trading landscape, including removing US steel and aluminium tariffs and lifting the US ban on British lamb and beef.
“We’re also working with the US on areas of shared interest, including digital trade, SME support and supply chain security.”
Mr Huddleston said the US is not negotiating trade agreements with other countries beyond the UK.
But he insisted there is “very good dialogue with one of our closest allies in so many areas” and “considerable progress can and will continue to be made even without an FTA”.
Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh described a deal with the US as the “greatest prize of all”.
Sir Edward added: “Will the minister confirm that as far as we’re concerned there are no barriers at all to trying to conclude an agreement, whether it’s chlorinated chicken or whatever?
“We want this deal with the US. Will it happen do you think?”
Mr Huddleston said: “We’re very keen to conclude a deal with the US but at the moment they’re not able to enter into those negotiations.
“But that will not prohibit us from continuing to find opportunities and remove barriers where and when we can, as well as seeking those opportunities across the world.”
Brexiteers were hopeful of a trade deal between the UK and the US after leaving the EU.
Former US President Donald Trump talked up the prospect, but there has been little progress under his successor Joe Biden.
It comes as Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch today travels to Mexico in a bid to make progress on two “post-Brexit wins”.
On a two-day visit to Mexico City, she will hold talks with counterparts to discuss the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
A major opportunity made possible by the UK’s departure from the EU is joining the 11-country CPTPP made up of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Mrs Badenoch, a rising Tory star, will also look to renegotiate Britain’s free trade agreement with Mexico.
The Business and Trade Secretary said: “Mexico is a top-20 global economy, and a core member of the exciting trans-Pacific trade bloc.
“I’m here to push progress on two significant post-Brexit wins that will not only benefit British businesses, but also show what the UK has to offer CPTPP countries.
“We will add £2trillion to the bloc’s GDP when we join, taking it up to 15 percent of the world’s GDP, and will add a strong voice promoting free trade and defending against protectionism on the global stage.”
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