The United Kingdom expects to sign six trade agreements with the United States this year

The United Kingdom hopes to secure about six trade agreements with the United States by the end of the year, as negotiations on a comprehensive free trade agreement with President Joe Biden’s administration are stalled.

UK Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said in an interview on Wednesday that lower-level agreements would be aimed at easing barriers through memoranda of understanding, such as mutual recognition of professional competence and improved access to purchase agreements.

“There will probably be about half a dozen throughout the year when we make crystals of what different states want to reveal to us through MoUs,” Trevelian said. “This is around most services but there will be some collection opportunities for access.”

While Trevelian declined to name a state, his ministerial team is in talks with states, including California, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Indiana and South Carolina. Last month, Commerce Secretary Penny Mordant said she expects to sign a state-level agreement with Texas by October.

Since Biden became president, federal-level trade talks have been frozen, and the United Kingdom has focused on liberalizing trade with the United States at the state-by-state level. Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed a US deal as a great reward for Brexit, and Trevelyan hinted that he still thought a broader deal was possible.

Northern Ireland

“In terms of how we can pull the FTA together, this is a conversation we hope to be able to have by the end of the year,” Trevelian said. “Don’t say we can’t do the United States – of course we can, there are many opportunities, and we’re really tearing it apart.”

The comments came a day after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced plans to introduce legislation to unilaterally override parts of the post-Brexit settlement for Northern Ireland, which it discussed with the European Union. U.S. lawmakers have warned that the risks of the procedure reduce British pressure for a trade deal.

“If that happened then we would all be in for a rude awakening,” Bill Keating, a congressman for the Democrats in Biden, told Times Radio on Tuesday. “This is the reality of what will happen here – not a threat, a reality check.”

The U.S. Congress must approve any trade agreement that significantly reduces tariffs. For his part, Biden, who is of Irish descent, has repeatedly warned that tensions over a treaty known as the Northern Ireland Protocol would not endanger peace in the region. Truss stressed that the law would help restore stability to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Travelian said he was happy to explain the position of his American counterparts, “where there is a US concern” that the British approach was undermining peace.

In a Q&A session and interview after giving a talk on green trade at Bloomberg’s London headquarters, Trevelyan also:

  • Concerned about rising prices, he said there are two barriers to inflation: the initial increase in energy and then the “long-term impact through food production”.
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak has reiterated his position on a windfall tax on energy companies, saying it could be measured if they do not show commitment to long-term investment in the UK.
  • Emphasizes the importance of green trade to “de-put” the global economy and help end Russia’s dependence on fossil fuels

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