Consultation on trade negotiations with the United States

Closed 26 Oct 2018

Opened 20 Jul 2018

Overview

The UK is preparing for an independent trade policy once we leave the EU. We want to maximise our trade opportunities globally and across all countries – both by boosting our trading relationships with old friends and new allies, and by seeking a deep and special partnership with the EU. The UK aims to pursue an ambitious bilateral trade agenda, taking full advantage of the flexibility provided by our proposal for the future economic partnership (as set out in the White Paper on 'The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union' on 12 July).

As part of this the UK will have the opportunity to negotiate, sign, and ratify Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) during the implementation period and to bring them into force from January 2021. These agreements can enable increased trade and investment, secure access for UK exporters to the key markets of today and the future, give consumers access to a greater range of products at lower prices, and make the UK more innovative, competitive and prosperous.

Trade agreements aim to reduce trade barriers between countries. Barriers can be taxes charged on goods as they cross borders (tariffs), or different rules and regulations that can add to trade costs (non-tariff measures). Trade and investment barriers make it more difficult and costly to trade or invest overseas. Reducing these barriers can help the flow of goods, services and money for investment between countries, and help businesses to access markets they previously weren’t able to. Consumers can benefit from access to a greater variety of products at lower prices. 

Trade agreements do not prevent governments from regulating as they see fit, and they also do not require governments to privatise any services. The UK Government is committed to maintaining our high standards for consumers, workers and the environment, and to protecting our public services, in any future trade agreements that we conclude.   

Trade agreements also have wider benefits. These can include:

  • Boosting economic growth in the UK by encouraging more competition, investment and innovation.
  • Contributing to global prosperity, by boosting economic growth in countries that the UK does business with through international supply chains.
  • Increased global prosperity supports social cohesion within and between countries, and in turn political stability, which is one of the building blocks of our collective security.
  • Some trade agreements can particularly benefit developing countries – trade can be a vital tool in boosting developing countries’ economic growth and reducing poverty, while also providing UK consumers and businesses with goods at competitive prices.
  • Trade is also an instrument of foreign policy and some countries use trade policy (including trade agreements) to advance standards and values.

The Department for International Trade is preparing for possible negotiations with the United States after the UK leaves the EU on the 29th March 2019. The UK Government is consulting with members of the public, businesses, trade experts, and any other interested organisations to help inform this work.  

This initial consultation will inform our overall approach to our future trade relationship with the United States. If we launch formal negotiations with the United States, we will also engage on specific issues as negotiations progress.

Trade with the United States (US)

The United States is a country with which the United Kingdom shares a strong and enduring bond. We share a common language, deep historical and cultural ties and the broadest and most advanced security co-operation of any two countries in the world. Since the Second World War we have together led the work to build the international system on which global peace and prosperity depend. Our economies have never been more deeply intertwined, making the US a vital trading and investment partner for the UK. The US was the UK’s largest single bilateral trading partner in 2016 (accounting for 15% of total UK trade) and the UK’s largest single export market (accounting for 18% of all UK exports). Total trade in goods and services between the UK and the US was worth £181 billion in 2017. The US was also the top destination for UK investment and the top investor in the UK in 2016. A UK-US free trade agreement would aim to build on our existing trade and investment relationship, benefiting both economies - whilst ensuring that we meet our international obligations and maintain our high standards of consumer, labour, animal and environmental protection.

The UK Government has published an information pack to be read in conjunction with this consultation: Information note on the US

This pack explains the rationale for free trade agreements, the provisions they typically cover, and gives an overview of current UK-US trade and investment. 

Please note, this consultation will close at 23:59 on 26 October 2018.

What Happens Next

This consultation has now closed. The Department for International Trade is now considering responses. A response to this consultation will be published in due course.