Jeremy Corbyn (Leader of the Labour Party) recently presented a number of documents which cover six rounds of talks between U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) officials and UK officials from the Department of International Trade. These documents detail meetings which were held between July 2017 and July 2019. With all the rhetoric flying around, it’s useful to explore what’s actually been happening with regards to discussions about a future trading relationship with the USA.
The meetings were preparatory meetings ahead of formal trade talks.
The UK-US Trade and Investment Working Group was established in July 2017 by UK Secretary of State for International Trade Dr Liam Fox MP and United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer.
Since its inception, the Working Group has been laying the groundwork for an ambitious and wide-ranging potential future free trade agreement once the UK has left the EU, as well as ensuring commercial continuity for UK and US businesses, workers, and consumers.
The Working Group delegations were led by officials from the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) and USTR. It also included representatives from a wide range of UK and U.S. Government departments and agencies.
Total trade between the two countries is already worth about £190 billion a year. We are each other’s largest source of foreign direct investment and, according to U.S. statistics, the UK and U.S. have around $1 trillion invested in each other’s economies. Every day around one million Americans go to work for UK firms, while around one million Britons go to work for American firms.
The documents presented by Jeremy Corbyn were posted on reddit around mid-october – it is unclear where the poster obtained them.
These meetings were held during Prime Minister Theresa May’s tenure and while Dr Liam Fox (MP) was Secretary of State for International Trade, running the Department for International Trade (DiT).
The meetings were mentioned in statements released by DiT, but other details do not appear to have been released to the public. The documents made available by Jeremy Corbyn, contain reports on the discussion and outcome of the meetings.
USTR Signs Mutual Recognition Agreements with the United Kingdom
On February 14, 2019, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney and Ambassador Kim Darroch, United Kingdom (UK) Ambassador to the United States, signed two mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) covering telecom equipment, electro-magnetic compatibility (EMC) for information and communications technology products, pharmaceutical good manufacturing practice (GMP) inspections, and marine equipment.
These MRAs with the UK replicate substantive provisions of existing MRAs between the United States and the European Union for these sectors and will ensure that U.S.-UK trade in these product sectors is not disrupted when the UK leaves the European Union. U.S. exports to the UK of products covered by these agreements exceeded $5 billion in 2018.
U.S.-UK Agreement on Trade in Wine
On January 31, 2019, Ambassador Gregg Doud, USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator, and Ambassador Kim Darroch, United Kingdom (UK) Ambassador to the United States, signed two agreements covering wine and distilled spirits today to ensure there is no disruption in trade of these products between the United States and the UK when the UK leaves the European Union (EU). Currently the United States has agreements on wine and distilled spirits with the European Union which cover trade with the UK by virtue of its membership in the EU.
Other useful links
The UK is preparing for an independent trade policy to implement after EU Exit. This means the UK will have the opportunity to negotiate and enter into trade agreements with other countries.
These agreements can:
- enable increased trade and investment
- secure access for UK exporters to the key markets of today and the future
- give consumers access to a greater range of products at lower prices
- make the UK more innovative, competitive and prosperous
The Department for International Trade is preparing for possible negotiations with the US after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. The UK government is consulting with members of the public, businesses, trade experts, and any other interested organisations to help inform this work.
This agreed consultation will help to inform our overall approach to our future trade relationship and trade negotiations with the US.
An information pack for the Consultation relating to a bilateral Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States