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UK Confirms Free Trade Agreement Plans

Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss has announced the first steps in the UK’s FTA plans

Published on 7 February 2020

Wilbur Ross and Liz Truss Wilbur Ross (US Secretary of Commerce) and Liz Truss (UK Secretary of State for International Trade). Cropped photo: Twitter @SecretaryRoss

Liz Truss, the UK's Secretary of State for International Trade, has announced details of the Government's plan to develop Free Trade Agreements with countries outside of the EU. In a speech yesterday (Feb 6) in the House of Commons, Ms Truss began by saying "Having left the European Union the UK now faces an opportunity to re-emerge after decades of hibernation as a campaigner for global free trade. According to the IMF, 90% of global GDP growth is forecast to come from outside the EU over the next 5 years. The UK needs to be ready to capitalise upon this."

Explaining the Government's goals for British trade, Ms Truss said that "We aim to secure free trade agreements with countries covering 80% of UK trade within the next three years", highlighting a key priority of deepening "trade and investment relationships with like-minded partners, starting with the USA, Japan, Australia and New Zealand". Ms Truss also suggested that negotiations with these nations could "be a potential stepping-stone to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership."

The Secretary of State went on to outline particular aspects of the US-UK negotiations, beginning with the assurance that "when we are negotiating trade deals, the NHS will not be on the table" and that "we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards."

Detailing areas of priority for a US-UK Agreement, Ms Truss said that an FTA between the two nations should "increase access to the US market for UK businesses", and should offer "efficient, predictable, and transparent customs procedures, with a reduction in technical barriers to trade", going on to note that "The FTA will aim to remove measures that currently restrict UK trade and to prevent their imposition in future, while upholding the safety and quality of products on the UK market". Other priorities include:

- A secure system of trade remedies,
- An emphasis on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards,
- Boosting trade in services as well as goods,
- Mutual recognition of professional qualifications,
- Reducing barriers for investment,
- Supporting SMEs in expanding Transatlantic operations,
- Future proofing an agreement "to take account of changing technology and developing areas of the economy",
- Recognising the world leading intellectual property regimes of both nations
- and "Maximising access for UK companies to government procurement opportunities at US federal and state level"

A full copy of the speech with further information can be found by going to www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-02-06/HCWS96


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