UK-U.S. Trade Negotiations Should Be ‘Absolute Priority’, Says Think Tank, as Advanced Talks Set for June

US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hold a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York, September 24, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The first round of trade talks between the UK and the U.S. have concluded with advanced negotiations set for June, according to the government, days after discussions with the EU hit a deadlock.

International trade secretary Liz Truss announced on Monday that the first round of talks with her U.S. counterpart Robert Lighthizer and 200 other experts and negotiators last week had been “positive and constructive”.

“Both sides are hopeful that negotiations for a comprehensive trade agreement can proceed at an accelerated pace,” Secretary of State for International Trade Truss said, confirming that the second round of negotiations, conducted virtually due to the coronavirus lockdown, will take place in the weeks beginning the 15th and 22nd of June.

“The meetings were positive and constructive, reflecting the mutual commitment to secure an ambitious agreement that significantly boosts trade and investment between our economies, the first and fifth largest in the world,” Ms Truss said.

Leftists and Europhiles have been pressuring the Conservative government to extend the transition period due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, which would keep the UK tied to EU institutions. The consequence of delaying the exit, scheduled for December 31st, 2020, also means a delay in activating any post-Brexit trade deals with global economies like the United States of America. The government, however, has maintained that it will not extend the transition period — a position enshrined in law — and had said that it would prepare to leave without a deal if sufficient progress is not made by June.

Speaking to Breitbart London, Ben Harris-Quinney, the chairman of the Bow Group, said: “The government is right to not delay the Brexit process due to coronavirus, but for too long it has de-prioritised the very generous offers the United States has been making regarding a trade deal. Those offers won’t necessarily be there indefinitely, and we should make discussing them an absolute priority.”

Mr Harris-Quinney, who is the chairman of the UK’s oldest conservative think tank, also criticised the Tory government’s choice of leadership for the transatlantic negotiations, saying: “It is unlikely that Liz Truss, a Remainer who is not aligned to the politics of the Trump administration, is the best person for this job. The government should be putting our best foot forward and tasking this to MPs and representatives who believe in Brexit and are grateful for the favourable treatment the Trump administration has offered us.

“It has also been foolish, petty, and short-sighted, not to deploy our best asset in Nigel Farage in some way,” Mr Harris-Quinney added, signalling the importance of Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who shares a friendship with President Donald Trump.

The announcement of positive progress in trade talks across the pond comes as the most recent round of negotiations between London and Brussels ended in deadlock, with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier saying that the conclusion of talks on Friday had been “disappointing, very disappointing”.

The EU has remained committed to demands that the UK maintain regulatory alignment with the bloc, as well as accept continued oversight by the European Court of Justice and European fishermen maintain access to British waters. However, reports suggest that the EU may back down on its fishing demands, where currently EU countries have access to 60 per cent of Britain’s fish landings. The UK has also restarted preparations for a ‘no deal’ with the EU, where the UK would trade with the EU on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.

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