I understand that headlines have created concerns for some about such a trade deal, but the UK Government has taken a number of measures in order to restore confidence. These include the strengthening of parliamentary scrutiny for future trade deals and an extension of the Trade and Agriculture Commission that works alongside the farmers unions to ensure their representation.
The benefits of an ambitious and comprehensive UK-US FTA are substantial. Aside from being the world’s largest economy, the US is the UK’s single largest trading partner. Total UK-US trade in the last year was valued at £220.9 billion, and our countries have over £700 billion invested in each other’s economies. Every day, over a million Britons and more than a million Americans work for companies from other nations.
A UK-US FTA could benefit all four nations of the UK and almost every sector. The agricultural sector would be a winner with lower input costs and a bigger export market. Moreover, the 30,000 Small and Medium Sized Enterprises who export to the US from all parts of the UK would benefit from the cutting of tariffs, trade barriers and red tape.
Exports of Scottish salmon and whisky, Welsh steel and lamb, machinery and furniture built in Northern Ireland, vehicles made in the Midlands, manufactured products from the North of England and financial services from London could all be boosted by a comprehensive FTA with the US. In the latest round of negotiations, the Secretary of State set out the need for the removal of US tariffs on scotch whisky.
I welcome that the Government has consulted widely and considered a number of opinions on its negotiating plans. Indeed, there were 158,720 responses submitted to the consultation recently held on trade negotiations with the US. Respondents noted, for example, that further reducing US tariffs across the automotive, ceramics, chemicals, processed food and drinks and textiles sectors could be beneficial.