UK-US Free Trade Agreement Negotiations Have Officially Begun

Despite Covid-19, UK-US Free Trade Agreement negotiations officially started today, with 100 negotiators on each side conducting talks over the next two weeks. The next negotiating round is already scheduled for June. UK chief negotiator Oliver Griffiths, spoke with his US equivalent Dan Mullaney, this afternoon kicking off the formal talks via video link. These negotiations are building on groundwork laid out by the Trade and Investment Working Group, which was established back in July 2017…

An FTA is a priority for both the UK and the US, with both sides having incentives to conduct talks at pace. Backbench Tories are delighted. They had been calling for US talks to operate concurrently with EU talks as a matter of leverage. Especially in the context of our Covid induced downturn, the more FTAs the better…

Policy papers:

The UK’s Approach to Trade Negotiations with the US

U.S. Negotiating Objectives for the UK

mdi-timer 5 May 2020 @ 16:32 5 May 2020 @ 16:32 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Read In Full: The UK’s US FTA Plans

This morning the Department for International Trade has released its economic analysis of the forthcoming free trade agreement with the United States. Back of the queue feels a very long time ago…

The document focusses on the regional benefits of a US-UK FTA, saying “Scotland is expected to be one of the parts of the UK to benefit most” through enhances salmon, whiskey, cashmere, and high-quality meat trade. Other sectors that stand to gain the most include Welsh lamb, midlands car manufacturing, machinery exports for the north of England, and London and the south-east through groundbreaking agreements on digital trade.

The Government has clearly been preemptively preparing for another scaremongering NHS attack from Labour, committing to an emphatic red line: “[The NHS] will not be on the table. The price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table. The services the NHS provides will not be on the table.”

The exercise modelled two plausible scenarios; a more limited agreement (tariff liberalisation and a 25% reduction in non-tariff measures), and one of a deeper agreement (full tariff liberalisation and a 50% reduction in non-tariff measures.) Growing the UK economy by £1.6 billion to £3.4 billion respectively…

Read the official Government document in full here…

mdi-timer 2 March 2020 @ 10:08 2 Mar 2020 @ 10:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Department for International Trade Under Threat of Closure

The BBC’s Norman Smith is reporting that Liam Fox’s Department for International Trade “has been told to drop everything else and just focus on No deal planning as the most likely outcome.” Lots of Brexiteers are cheering this news…

Guido thinks they are cheering too soon. Presumably the calculation now is that either we head toward no deal… or the new deal that passes a Commons vote with Labour backing hinges on membership of the EU’s customs union, and therefore the department will be shut down as surplus to requirements.

There are about 80 members of the ERG. May’s deal lost by 230. Either the clock runs down to no deal, which would require steel heretofore unseen in the PM, or Number 10 folds to the demands of our Remain voting parliament, and commits to a customs union. Bleak.

UPDATE: A DIT insider confirms that the Department is now focusing heavily on no deal preparations. It appears to be less of a surprise to the staff there than it is to the press…

UPDATE II: Another DIT source also confirms that DIT is now focused on no deal preparations, although this is only an intensification of the work they have already been doing for years to prepare for all eventualities. They point out that the Department would still have a role to promote British exports even if the undesirable situation of a customs union arose…

mdi-timer 16 January 2019 @ 16:04 16 Jan 2019 @ 16:04 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
How Did Someone Who Thinks We Should Stay in the Customs Union End Up Running DIT?

Former Department for International Trade permanent secretary Martin Donnelly’s anti-Brexit speech today has been seized upon by Remainers and given top billing by the Today programme. Donnelly’s latest whinge is nothing new – he essentially says this morning that we should stay in the single market and customs union, just as he did three months ago. Not that that’s stopping the BBC and Remain media from treating it as new information. The more pertinent question is how on earth did someone who thinks we should stay in the customs union end up in charge of a department the whole point of which is to sign trade deals outside the customs union? 

The reaction on Whitehall this morning is more one of rolled eyes than surprise. A former Eurocrat, Donnelly was never rated, neither by ministers nor Jeremy Heywood. Indeed they tried to push him out repeatedly pre-referendum before he finally took a knighthood and left. Donnelly tells you all you need to know about the civil service being stuffed full of Remainers trying to undermine the process… hardly helpful for his former colleagues.

mdi-timer 27 February 2018 @ 09:35 27 Feb 2018 @ 09:35 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Former DIT Perm Sec Now Writing For Pro-EU Spin Shop

The public pronouncements of former top civil servants liberated from office tell you all you need to know about how Whitehall is stuffed full of ultra-Remainers opposing Brexit. Sir Martin Donnelly was Permanent Secretary for the Department of International Trade until last year. He has just written an article for InFacts, the mad pro-EU spin shop. InFacts‘ own website makes clear on its homepage that it wants to ‘Stop Brexit’. Does Donnelly agree with this? A very odd forum for a mandarin in charge of a department directly involved in delivering Brexit. 

In his article Donnelly paints a very pessimistic picture of what would happen if the UK leaves the single market – i.e. Brexit. He has form on this, in November he said we should join the EEA. Donnelly then talks about the problems that would arise “if” the UK leaves the customs union. Eh? This man was in charge of the Department for International Trade. The whole point of his department is to sign trade deals outside the customs union. Did he not believe the UK would be leaving the customs union when he was perm sec? How did he ever get the job?

mdi-timer 24 January 2018 @ 15:30 24 Jan 2018 @ 15:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Trump Wants Farage to Be British Ambassador


Nigel says “I’m very flattered by the comments and I have said since I met the president-elect that I would like to do anything I can to act in a positive way to help relationships between our two countries.” An ill-tempered Downing Street has put out the line that “There is no vacancy. We have an excellent ambassador to the US.” Which is as factually true as it is unimaginative.

There are however rather a lot of vacancies in the Department for International Trade for trade negotiators. There is no doubt that for Nigel Farage the doors of the highest offices in Washington D.C. will open. It would be a self-defeating waste of a national asset to not give Nigel a transatlantic role. Theresa May should ignore the collective hissy fit of the commentariat and make him Sir Nigel Farage, Her Majesty’s Special Envoy for Trade to the United States of America…

mdi-timer 22 November 2016 @ 07:55 22 Nov 2016 @ 07:55 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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