Last week the UK and US governments start negotiating a UK-US Free Trade Agreement. Government analysis shows a UK-US FTA will benefit every region and nation of the UK, and benefit the East of England economy by £345m in the long run. It will also include a dedicated chapter to help the UK’s 5.9 million small businesses.
At International Trade questions, James asked the Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, International Trade Secretary to confirm that any trade deal with the US will not lower our standards on imported foods. She confirmed that the UK will not lower food import standards as part of any deal. We are going to maintain those standards.
James also highlighted the great opportunity these talks and others represent a great opportunity for world leading companies in West Norfolk including Bespak, and other pharmaceutical, engineering, and manufacturing business to benefit from reduced tariffs and the removal of non-tariff barriers to trade.
The US is our biggest single trading partner with total bilateral trade of £230.3 billion in 2019, representing 19.8% of all UK exports. Our exports to the US are growing faster than to the EU: 47% over the past five years versus 26%.
The UK’s negotiating objectives make clear that any future agreement must protect our NHS.
- Cutting red tape to help small businesses: this could particularly benefit SMEs in the processed food and drink sector by reducing non-tariff barriers such as arduous customs procedures.
- Reducing tariffs on food and drink: the East of England exports £34.2m worth of food products to the US. An FTA could reduce tariffs for these exports.
- Supporting high exports in the life sciences industry: the East of England’s top export to the US is medicinal and pharmaceutical products, exporting £711m worth in 2018 – almost one fifth of all East of England goods exports to the US. A US FTA could provide opportunities for export growth by extending zero tariffs to products not covered by the WTO agreement on pharmaceuticals.
One quarter of all specialised machinery exported from the UK to the US is exported by the East of England.