Washington and London ready to resume trade talks in Baltimore

Washington and London ready to resume trade talks in Baltimore

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Washington and London ready to resume trade talks in Baltimore

Washington and London have chosen the port city of Baltimore - just an hour’s drive from the U.S. capital - as the site of talks on deepening their economic relationship.

The United States is Britain’s biggest trade partner, and the two countries are particularly interconnected when it comes to services trade and direct foreign investment.

In total, the United States and the United Kingdom do some $263 billion (200 billion pounds) worth of trade per year.

Following Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, London has been negotiating agreements far and wide in an effort to boost its international trade footprint - and has sought in particular to reinforce its relationship with the United States.

But even though the administration of former president Donald Trump seemed ready to make a new bilateral arrangement with London and had even opened negotiation talks, the administration of current President Joe Biden does not seem to be in a hurry to continue them.

“It’s important to remember that these agreements are just one tool at our disposal,” said a senior U.S. trade official on the condition of anonymity.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, who is leading the American side on yesterday’s and today’s talks, is expected to talk about “the need to get creative and think outside the box when it comes to our trade dynamic with the U.K.,” another official said during a telephone conversation with reporters.

“Some of our trade tools were developed decades ago, many decades ago, and don’t particularly represent the global challenges that we faced today,” the second official said.

Asked whether this week’s meeting marked a revival of negotiations that were interrupted last year, the officials insisted these talks are more about “deciding where to go together,” and said they are confident the conversations would be productive.

“The purpose of this dialogue is to work together to make our trade smarter, and to help our workers and businesses compete in a really tough global economy,” the second official said.

Tai and her British counterpart Anne-Marie Trevelyan are expected to address a series of challenges, such as reducing bottlenecks in global supply chains, reducing carbon use, promoting digital trade and supporting their nations’ workforces through labor rights, a favorite issue of the Biden administration.

Britain and the United States in January announced efforts to put an end to the Trump-era steel and aluminum conflict. The United Kingdom became one of several countries upon which the U.S. imposed an additional 25 percent tariff on steel and an additional 10 percent tariff on aluminum in 2018.