UK-US trade deal 'a stretch' in Biden's first year says Darroch
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US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has been in London this week for a G7 meeting of foreign ministers and downplayed the prospect of a US-UK trade deal. Mr Blinken said the Biden-administration would “review everything” that has already been discussed between UK and US officials and acknowledged this would “take some time”. He added the US would only strike an agreement that was “consistent with the principles” of Mr Biden and the country would continue to adopt an America first policy.
Speaking on the Today Programme, Mr Blinken also fired a warning to the UK and insisted any agreement would have to fall in line with the Good Friday Agreement.
The US Secretary of State said: “Our trade negotiator just got on the job, so she’s taking the time to go back and review everything that was discussed and that’s going to take some time.
“We want to make sure that, whether it’s with the United Kingdom or anyone else, any agreements reached are consistent with the principles that President Biden has established to focus on making sure that these agreements really advance the wellbeing of our workers and their families. That’s our focus.
“We want to make sure that, whether it’s with the United Kingdom or the EU, whether it’s anything we’re doing, that we make sure that the tremendous gains from the Good Friday Agreement are sustained and that the economic as well the political wellbeing of Northern Ireland is taken fully into account.”
Despite pouring cold water on the prospect of an imminent deal, Mr Blinken stated the US and UK remained “profoundly in sync”.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss has been fronting negotiations with her US counterparts over the past year and has made a number of breakthroughs.
In March, the two sides agreed to suspend the 25 percent tariff on Scotch whisky and other UK exports.
London and Washington also agreed a joint approach to the longstanding trade conflict over aerospace tariffs.
Figures from the House of Commons library reveal the UK exported £141billion goods and services to the US in 2019, 21 percent of all exports.
Last week, Ms Truss held positive talks with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and sources suggested a wider deal could be on the cards.
One Whitehall insider close to Ms Truss said: “We could have a deal much quicker than first thought, it seems the Biden administration are really willing to engage, it’s a mini breakthrough.”
A second source added: “It seems Katherine has a change of heart, it is certainly promising for trade relations.”
Talks around a free trade deal with the US are set to intensify when Mr Biden visits the UK next month.
The trip to the UK will also be Mr Biden’s first overseas engagement since he was sworn into office in January.
The Prime Minister will host the 78-year-old and six other foreign leaders at the G7 Summit in Cornwall from June 11-13.
Mr Biden has been a critic of Brexit in the past and served as vice-president to Barack Obama when the historic 2016 EU referendum took place.
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Mr Obama famously said the UK would be at the “back of the queue” for a US trade deal if the British people voted to leave the EU.
Upon announcing Mr Biden’s trip to the UK, the White House stressed the visit would have a focus on “revitalising the transatlantic relationship”.
In a statement, the White House said: “This trip will highlight his commitment to restoring our alliances, revitalising the transatlantic relationship, and working in close cooperation with our allies and multilateral partners to address global challenges and better secure America’s interests.”
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