WASHINGTON, March 21, 2022 (AFP) — The United States has pledged to take “concrete steps to improve trade relations” with the United Kingdom on the first day of talks with the historic partner to deepen bilateral trade.
“I am optimistic and excited about how we can develop trade relations between the two countries in the 21st century,” US Trade Representative Catherine Tai said in Baltimore, a historic city and port located in the state of Maryland, where the parties will debate. . Tuesday.
Soon after arriving at the White House, President Joe Biden ended a trade dispute over tariffs imposed on manufacturers Airbus and Boeing.
His administration later began negotiations to end tariffs on British steel and aluminum, a trade dispute inherited from the Trump era. British Minister for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan believes “positive progress” has been made on the issue.
“This will allow us to pave the way to focus on the next phases of the relationship between the two countries,” he said.
In Baltimore, however, Tai and Trevelyan would not address the merits of the dispute, said a US official who previously requested anonymity.
On Monday, Tai and Trevelyan said they would discuss a range of issues including easing barriers to global supply chains, decarbonizing their economies, promoting digital commerce and supporting the domestic workforce, as well as labor rights, a An issue with which the Biden administration is at stake. great importance.
“We want to further strengthen trade and investment ties,” said Trevelyan, who recalled that the two countries have “deep ties at all levels of society, culture, defence, intelligence and economy.”
The United States is Britain’s largest trading partner. And the two countries are particularly intertwined when it comes to trade in services and foreign direct investment.
In total, their trade represents about $263 billion (200 billion pounds) per year.
“And one and a half million Britons work in American companies every day, and over one million Americans work in British companies every day,” the British minister recalled.
– No immediate agreement – These talks, which will not lead to a major bilateral trade agreement, on a date not defined, before other negotiations to be held in “late spring (boreal)”.
Since the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, London has negotiated agreements in all areas to boost its international trade and, in particular, strengthen its ties with the United States.
But while the administration of former President Donald Trump (2017-2021) was ready to strike a new bilateral agreement and even launch a negotiating process, Democrat Joe Biden’s administration is in no hurry.
“It is important to remember that (trade) agreements are nothing more than a tool at our disposal,” US officials said on condition of anonymity.
Officials argued that some business tools designed “several decades ago” are not necessarily suited to meet the global challenges that countries are facing today.
The talks are taking place at a time when the Russian invasion of Ukraine is wreaking havoc. Sources said no new sanctions would be announced against Moscow, although the parties would raise the issue.
“Many of the sanctions relate to other US government ministries,” he explained.
Instead, the discussion will focus largely on “the many ways in which we can advance our common interests against Russia and China,” he said, without elaborating.