WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2017 - Talks have already begun about how to put together a trade agreement between the U.S. and UK, British Prime Minister Theresa May said today at a joint press conference with President Donald Trump.
The UK is still in the process of extracting itself from the European Union, but May stressed that Britain and the U.S. “are discussing how we can establish a trade negotiation agreement, take forward immediate high-level talks, lay the groundwork for a UK-U.S. trade agreement and identify the practical steps we can take now in order to enable companies in both countries to trade in business with one another more easily … “
Trump did not address the potential trade pact directly, but did stress the importance of a strong relationship with Britain and lauded the UK voters' decision to exit the EU, or Brexit.
“A free and independent Britain is a blessing to the world and our relationship has never been stronger,” Trump said during his first official meeting with a visiting head of state at the White House. “Madam Prime Minister, we look forward to working closely with you as we strengthen our mutual ties in commerce, business and foreign affairs. Great days lie ahead for our two peoples and our two countries.”
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May stressed that overall trade between the two countries is worth about 150 billion pounds (roughly $188 billion). According to a recent report from USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service, U.S. agricultural, fish, and forestry exports to the UK reached $2.98 billion in 2015, a record for the third consecutive year. “Consumer oriented food and beverage products remain the most important sector, amounting to $1.12 billion … and also a record in 2015,” the report said.
However, USDA data shows that dairy exports to the UK dropped last year.
Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president for trade policy at the U.S. Dairy Export Council, told Agri-Pulse that the group would support a new trade pact so long as the UK does not insist on protecting cheese and other food names like the EU continues to do in negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).
“The U.S. dairy industry supports a proactive U.S. trade agenda with countries likely to be good markets for our products and receptive to dismantling barriers to trade,” Castaneda said. “If the UK is prepared to take a very different path than the EU took in TTIP on key topics important to agriculture such as geographical indications and SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary) issues, then an agreement that cements progress in the right direction in those areas could be beneficial.”