Liz Truss says UK will 'drive a hard bargain' in US and EU trade talks

Liz Truss says Britain will ‘drive a hard bargain’ in trade talks with the US and EU and says the Government will ‘walk away’ from a deal if it is not good enough 

  • The International Trade Secretary set out the broad aims of trade agreements
  • Revealed UK wants reductions in tariffs from a deal with the United States 
  • Could raise fears about what Trump administration will demand in return 
  • She insisted NHS and chlorinated chicken were not up for discussion with US

The International Trade Secretary (pictured in Downing Street this morning) made the blunt statement as she set out the broad aims of Boris Johnson’s new agreements

Britain will walk away from any trade deal it feels is not good enough, Liz Truss warned today as she said the UK would ‘drive a hard bargain’ as it seeks a swathe of post-Brexit agreements.

The International Trade Secretary made the blunt statement as she set out the broad aims of Boris Johnson’s new agreements.

She revealed that Britain wants far-reaching reductions in tariffs from a trade deal with the United States to open it up to more UK firms, in a written statement to MPs.

This could raise fears about what the Trump administration will demand as a quid-pro-quo in return, amid fears that it wants access to the NHS and its agricultural products. 

Ministers have talked up plans to agree trade deals with the EU, US and Australia before the end of 2020, a date seen as optimistic by critics.

In the written statement Ms Truss said: ‘We aim to secure free trade agreements with countries covering 80 per cent of UK trade within the next three years. 

‘We will drive a hard bargain and, as with all negotiations, we will be prepared to walk away if that is in the national interest.

‘Independence will allow the UK to become a truly Global Britain, championing free trade and showing the UK is a force for good.’

She said Britain wanted a deal with the United States to ‘secure comprehensive, far-reaching and mutually beneficial tariff reductions … which will increase access to the US market for UK businesses, and lower prices and increase choice for UK consumers.’

Ms Truss said Britain wanted a deal with Donald Trump’s administration to ‘secure comprehensive, far-reaching and mutually beneficial tariff reductions … ‘

The United States is Britain’s biggest trading partner after the EU, accounting for nearly 19 per cent of all its exports in 2018 and 11 per cent of imports. 

Both sides hope a deal can be reached as soon as this year but there are many hurdles.

The US negotiating objectives published last year include seeking a removal of non-tariff barriers such as restrictions on chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated meat.

It is also pressing for full market access for US pharmaceutical products and medical devices, which would require changes to NHS pricing restrictions and could increase the cost of drugs.

But Ms Truss said Britain would not compromise on its high animal welfare and food standards and the price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table in trade talks.

She said the Government planned to develop a new ‘most favoured nation’ tariff regime which will enter into force at the start of 2021 and will apply to goods from countries around the world where no other trade arrangements are in place.

It has launched a four-week consultation on the UK Global Tariff, which will replace the EU’s Common External Tariff. This could include simplifying tariffs and removing them completely on goods where Britain has no or limited domestic production, it said.

‘It is vitally important that we now move away from the complex tariff schedule imposed on us by the European Union,’ Truss said, adding that special arrangements would apply to goods entering Northern Ireland.

The government also said it would also begin reviewing 43 EU trade remedy measures which were considered important to British industries, including anti-dumping duties of up to 36.1 per cent on imports of ceramic kitchen and tableware from China.

 

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