President-elect Joe Biden and the Democrats are committed to negotiating a UK-US trade deal, according to international trade secretary Liz Truss.
Truss said today that talks would continue with the incoming administration, despite widespread speculation that a cross-Atlantic deal may be scrapped by Biden.
A source from the former Vice President’s transition team told The Telegraph last week that a UK trade deal was “not a priority” for the first 100 days of Biden’s term.
This is significant as the UK has said a deal needs to be done before Congress’ Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority, which prevents Senators from amending agreed trade deals, runs out mid-2021.
However, Truss told a virtual conference hosted by advocacy body The CityUK that Washington Democrats were committed to trade negotiations.
“We are working with both parties in the US and there is a consensus that a trade deal with the UK is a good thing and we’re determined to make further progress,” she said.
“We’re looking for an ambitious financial services chapter, with high regulatory standards and the agreement to facilitate cross-border flows.”
There have now been five rounds of formal talks between UK and US negotiators so far.
Some of the key issues are US agricultural exports, digital and financial services and visa access for businesspeople travelling in either direction.
There has been much speculation about whether a Biden White House would be more challenging for the UK’s post-Brexit trade agenda than it has been under Donald Trump.
Biden is known to be a critic of Brexit and his economic plan is largely based around a “Made in America” push.
However, Westwood Capital investment banker and economics pundit Dan Alpert told City A.M. this month that the Democrats may be more amenable than Trump on some trade issues.
He speculated that Biden may be more willing to alter rules around food standards, which would make a deal with the UK easier.
“I’m not saying we’re going to do away with chlorinated chicken overnight, but the idea of perhaps addressing the issue in a more constructive way…is I think far more likely under a Democratic administration than it is under the Republicans,” he said.