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At the International Trade Dinner hosted by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss at the Guildhall, the US-UK Special Relationship was centre stage.
After welcoming the guests of honour, Vice President Mike Pence and the Second Lady Karen Pence, Ms Truss pointed out that the historic hall had witnessed two very important speeches from the US: "President Eisenhower in 1945 as the Second World War was ending, and President Reagan in 1988, after his historic meeting with Gorbachev. Both speeches trumpeted the vital importance of free trade in developing a strong, free, democratic world," she said. "After 1945 it was the UK and US who together created the modern trading systems which have hugely enriched our lives. We banged the drum for free markets and democracy and proved the merits of our way of life in stark contrast with communism, which had failed its citizens. We saw Chairman Mao’s oppressive regime begin to fall with his death. We saw the Iron Curtain torn down in Eastern Europe, and a new era of trading and commercial freedom begin. When President Reagan addressed the Hall in 1988 he made the case for freedom and free markets. He said: ‘We have learned the first objective of the adversaries of freedom is to make free nations question their own faith in freedom, to make us think that adhering to our principles and speaking out against human rights abuses or foreign aggression is somehow an act of belligerence.’"
Ms Truss added: "1945 and 1988 were two crucial moments in which our two nations defended freedom. I want 2019 to be remembered as another great year, when the US and UK again joined forces to make the case for freedom across the world ... New battle lines have been drawn between free people living in free economies, and those where the state alone has its hands on the levers of power. And by leaving the EU the UK will be in a stronger position to defend our principles. For the first time in 40 years we will be able to set our own independent trade policy that works for the whole of the UK. We will be able to enter agreements with other countries such as Japan and South Korea, and renew our historic ties with friends in the Commonwealth, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But the largest opportunity of all lies with our closest ally and biggest trading partner – the United States of America." She ended: "It is 33 years since the Big Bang of 1986: let’s make 2019 the Big Bang year of free trade."
Vice President Pence talked about the trade deals and agreements that the USA has made or begun with South Korea, Japan, China and the European Union, and what he described as "the largest trade deal in American history: the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, which awaits congressional approval". He added: "As I told Prime Minister Johnson today, we believe a free trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom could increase trade between our two countries three or four times. And we’re already going to work on that free trade agreement. When you’re ready, we’ll be ready. In fact, the President told me today to tell Prime Minister Johnson that when Brexit is complete, we will begin negotiations on a free trade agreement right away. Our message is clear: The minute the UK is out, America is in ... The United States stands without apology for a strong, prosperous, and free United Kingdom. We always have."
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