Trump opens consultation on UK free trade agreement

The Trump administration has opened up a consultation on a potential Free Trade Agreement with the UK, and international trade secretary Liam Fox has said the ‘special relationship’ between the two countries is more important than ever before.

In a statement, the minister said negotiations on an FTA look set to begin shortly after the UK departs the European Union on March 29 2019, and highlighted the opportunity it would bring to UK companies. Many trade groups however have highlighted the potential threat to British food firms should any trade deal include agricultural goods produced more cheaply to lower welfare and environmental standards than the UK permits. The British Poultry Council and NFU are among those to warn of the threat to British farmers and processors. 

Latest figures reveal that in the year to August 2018, UK exports to the US reached £111.8bn, an increase of 4.1% on the same period the year before.

International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP, said: “The USA is our single largest trading partner, and as we take control of our own trading policy for the first time in forty years, our special relationship will be more important than ever.

“My international economic department has already consulted on what a new free trade agreement with the US would look like, and we are looking forward to beginning negotiations after we leave the EU.

“I welcome the positive steps that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has already taken to ensure trade talks can begin, such as notifying Congress and seeking views from the US public. 

UK-wide consultations on how a future FTA with the US, New Zealand, Australia and the CPTPP have recently concluded.

One British company who are particularly active in the US are KellyBronze, the Essex turkey farmers who are putting turkeys on the plates of thousands of Americans this year.

Supported by DIT, in 2014, the family run business from Danbury opened a new 130-acre farm in Crozet, Virginia where their free-range birds can roam across woodland and pastures. DIT has helped the company with export advice and opportunities for exports.

Paul Kelly, Managing Director of KellyBronze, said: “The Department for International Trade has been very helpful in keeping us informed of new opportunities or even events that may be of benefit to Kelly Turkeys` export business.

DIT recently launched the government’s Export Strategy which sets out how we will support businesses of all sizes to make the most of the opportunities presented by markets around the world.

A collaboration with business, developed after extensive engagement with a range of UK firms – the Strategy sets a new ambition from government to increase exports as a proportion of UK GDP to 35%.

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