US trade deal edges closer as Liz Truss readies for high-level talks with Washington

Brexit: Truss says UK 'determined' to have good EU trade terms

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The Cabinet minister hailed relations with Joe Biden’s new administration as “very positive” and insisted there is a “fantastic” agreement to be done. Britain has been held back for nearly 50 years by Brussels but is now free to strike trading terms that will benefit all four nations, Ms Truss said. She backed our crusade to Unite The Kingdom and said the country is a “family” and should stick together.

Scotland would reap some of the biggest benefits of increasing exports to America with an estimated half a billion-pound boost to its economy.

Ms Truss said: “We’re a family and I don’t want to see a future where we are divided.

“I think we bring so much benefit to each other and we work so well together and the union has been a massive success story and I want it to keep that way.”

The International Trade Secretary said there has been a “very good start” to the relationship with the White House.

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She will speak to new US trade official Katherine Tai for the first time to hammer out the timetable for securing a free trade agreement.

“I’m expecting to have a call with the new US trade representative over the next fortnight,” she said.

“I will be looking to establish a timetable with her. But we have made very good progress towards a deal, there’s a fantastic deal to be done for both countries and it will, of course, help grow our economy post-covid and give more opportunities right across the United Kingdom.”

The UK and US will also work together to stop China harming world trade.

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“So far, we have had a very positive relationship with the new Biden administration,” she added.

“We also want to work with the US on making trade fairer across the world and stopping unfair trade practices, for example, unfair industrial subsidies from countries like China.”

The International Trade Secretary scored a major victory for the Scottish whisky industry last week after securing an agreement with the US to suspend 25 per cent trade tariffs.

Donald Trump slapped the punishing levies on some exports in a tit for tat 16-year battle with the EU over aerospace subsidies.

Ms Truss is in talks to make the changes permanent and is “absolutely confident” of securing an agreement.

“We have been in this dispute for over 16s years and the reality is the EU failed to solve it,” she said during a visit to whisky distillery in Scotland.

“But as an independent trading nation we have been able to de escalate this dispute, get the parties to the table and I’m confident we can have a negotiated solution.

“And this is what we can do across the board, bringing in trade deals that lower tariffs, that give more opportunities to businesses across the union.”

The US is the biggest single export market for Scottish whisky and the move has helped protect 30,000 jobs across Scotland.

Ms Truss said it “shows what happens when you have a “United Kingdom trade policy where we can deliver for every part of the union”.

The agreement has set a positive tone for negotiations with the new US administration on a full free trade agreement, which will have “fantastic benefits right across the union”.

“Some of the biggest benefits will be felt in Scotland,” Ms Truss said. “It will boost Scottish GDP by more than half a billion pounds and it will benefit the 2,000 businesses that already export to the United States.

“We are also working on an enhanced trade partnership with India, a massive opportunity for Scotch whisky there to get down some of the very high tariffs – currently 150 per cent.”

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Government research shines a spotlight on the impact trade terms can have on exporting industries.

Scotland is expected to benefit from the UK-Japan trade deal with more oopportunity to export flagship Scottish products, such as Scotch beef.

Arrangements with Canada have locked in preferential tariffs and trading terms for more than 800 businesses in Scotland, which exported £411 million in goods to Canada in 2019. More than 40 per cent of the UK’s food and drink exports to Canada come from Scotland.

Wales exported almost £18 billion of goods in 2019, from almost 4,000 businesses while Northern Ireland exported £9.2bn in goods from over 8,000 businesses.

Ms Truss said 60 per cent of the trade Scotland does is with the rest of the UK and it is crucial for businesses in all nations to continue without barriers.

She said negotiating internationally as a union brings the necessary “economic heft to get a really good deal” and her department works with firms across the country to find out what they need from the negotiations.

“What being part of the UK brings, we are the fifth largest economy in the world, we have strong leverage in these deals,” she said.

“A lot of people said once we left the EU it would be difficult to get the same terms as the EU had in the deals with the countries around the world like Canada but we have succeeded in getting the same terms because we can be more nimble and flexible than the EU.”

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan also backed the Daily Express crusade following a virtual visit to the University of Edinburgh.

She said: “I am a Conservative and Unionist MP. I strongly back the Union.”

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