Washington and London resume exchange of views on trade

published on Monday, March 21, 2022 at 11:06 am

Washington and London have chosen the port city of Baltimore, an hour’s drive from the US capital, to begin talks on Monday to “deepen” their commercial relationship.

The United States is the UK’s largest trading partner. The two countries are particularly interconnected in trade in services and foreign direct investment.

In total, their trade is around $263 billion (£200 billion) a year.

Following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, London has been negotiating comprehensive agreements to develop its international trade and is seeking, in particular, to strengthen its ties with the United States.

But if the administration of former President Donald Trump (2017-2021) was ready to conclude a bilateral agreement with London and even launched a negotiation process, the Joe Biden administration does not seem to be in a hurry to restart them.

“It is important to remember that (trade) agreements are only a tool at our disposal,” US officials, who requested anonymity, said in a reserved tone.

Catherine Tai, the US Trade Representative who will lead talks with the US side on Monday and Tuesday, will stress “the need to be creative and think outside the box when it comes to our trade dynamics with the UK,” they said. continued during the conference call.

Officials have argued that some trading tools developed “many decades” ago have not always been well suited to address the global challenges countries face now.

– “To work together” –

Asked if the meeting revived the process of negotiating an agreement interrupted last year, they insisted that it was more about “working together” and said they were confident the discussions would be fruitful.

The purpose of these two-day discussions is to “make our trade relationships more inventive and help our workers and our companies compete in an especially challenging global economy,” they insisted.

Ambassador Tai and her British counterpart Anne-Marie Trevelyan will discuss a range of issues such as removing bottlenecks in global supply chains, decarbonizing their economies, promoting digital trade and supporting their national workforce as well as labor rights, a topic dear to Biden. administration.

The talks will take place as the Russian-led war in Ukraine continues to rage, but they will not lead to announcements of new sanctions against Moscow, even if they are discussed, US officials said.

“Partly because many of the sanctions target other departments of the US government,” such as the State Department, the Treasury and the Secretary of Commerce, they explained.

Instead, the talks will mostly focus on “the many ways in which we can pursue our common interests towards Russia and towards China,” they said without elaborating.

This new dialogue is “an opportunity to make transatlantic trade easier, faster and more profitable,” Ms Trevelyan said on Wednesday as she announced the meeting, followed by another round of discussions “later in the spring.” Great Britain.

In Baltimore, Washington and London will not specifically address their steel and aluminum dispute, which falls under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Commerce, US officials also pointed out, citing “progress” in discussions to resolve the conflict.

The two countries announced in January they were starting talks to end this Trump-era dispute. The UK is one of many countries that in June 2018, at the height of the trade war, imposed additional tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium.

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