‘We want to close a deal!’ Joe Biden explains red lines for ‘striking’ US UK trade deal

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New International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan held talks with US trade representative Katharine Tai yesterday. A free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States is seen as a major prize of leaving the European Union for the UK Government but is the first major challenge for the new International Trade Secretary, who replaced Liz Truss last week.

Ms Tai set out the conditions for a deal yesterday and stressed the importance of protecting the Good Friday Agreement in the ongoing negotiations on the Protocol. 

US President Joe Biden who has Irish ancestry and other senior Democrats are taking a keen interest in the situation in Northern Ireland.

The UK wants to rewrite the protocol, which avoids a hard border with Ireland by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the European Union’s single market for goods.

That has led to trade barriers for goods crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain.

Ms Tai strongly indicated there wouldn’t be a free trade agreement with the UK if the Government’s actions imperilled the peace process that ensures prosperity in Northern Ireland after the Troubles.

A spokesman for Ms Tai added last night: “She discussed USTR’s ongoing review of the US – UK free trade agreement negotiations to evaluate how a potential agreement could support the Biden-Harris Administration’s broader Build Back Better agenda.

“Ambassador Tai also discussed President Biden’s strong support for preserving the Good Friday Agreement that has brought peace to Northern Ireland and the importance of finding a durable solution to implementing the Irish Protocol.”

A UK Government source, added: “The call between the pair has made clear how the Biden administration wishes to approach striking a deal.

Mr Johnson will push to get talks going on Tuesday when he makes his first visit to the White House since Mr Biden succeeded Donald Trump.

Ahead of meeting President Biden, Mr Johnson blamed his lack of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US on President Joe Biden having “a lot of fish to fry”.

The Prime Minister insisted that he would rather get a good agreement with America’s “ruthless” negotiators than a “quick deal”.

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Speaking ahead of his talks with President Biden, he added: “On the FTA, the reality is that Joe has a lot of fish to fry.

“He’s got a huge infrastructure package, he’s got a build back better package. We want to do it, but what we want is a good FTA, a great FTA.”

The PM also said relationships between Washington and London now “are about as good as they have been at any time in decades”.

A day earlier, Mr Johnson downplayed any expectations that he could “crack” the issue during his visit to the White House.

Last night, the White House officials echoed Ms Tai’s calls and stressed the importance of protecting peace in Northern Ireland. 

“We have made clear our position on a US trade deal if peace in Northern Ireland is impacted from the UK’s departure from the EU,” one told Express.co.uk.

“We look forward to hearing what Mr Johnson has to say.”

US senators on Capitol Hill have also waded in and insisted the Protocol protects the Good Friday Agreement.

Senator Brendan Boyle, Co-Chair of the Congressional EU Caucus said it would be “completely unacceptable” for the United Kingdom to abandon the Northern Ireland protocol.

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