United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai held talks with Boris Johnson’s International Trade Secretary yesterday in a bid to tighten up relations. They focused on the trade track pioneered by the UK, which aims to champion free and fair trade including the reform of the WTO.
As well as this, Joe Biden’s Trade czar urged Ms Truss to collaborate on addressing topics of mutual interest, including industrial subsidies and the large civil aircraft dispute.
The US and UK had been struggling to reach an agreement on a long-running trade dispute over aircraft subsidies but both sides agreed to suspend punitive tariffs on each other for four months while talks continued.
Tensions also became heated last month over a digital services tax, with Washington threatening to escalate trade tensions by placing tariffs on the imports of countries with digital services tax measures in place.
But Express.co.uk understands the talks created “warmer relations” between London and Washington with the Biden administration now more willing to cooperate.
Whitehall officials said Ms Truss was keen on making “further progress” in May at the G7 trade ministers meeting when a final timeline for a US trade deal could be hammered out.
The UK side wants a trade deal as soon as is practically possible, with summer being mooted to secure an agreement, although any deal would take “substantial work” to finalise.
One Whitehall source close to Ms Truss added: “We could have a deal much quicker than first thought, it seems the Biden administration are really willing to engage, it’s a mini breakthrough.”
A second added: “It seems Katherine has a change of heart, it is certainly promising for trade relations.”
In a speech last night, Ms Tai also expressed her desire to forge global trade links which she mentioned in her discussions with foreign counterparts.
She added: “I have made clear that the United States will rebuild our international alliances and partnerships while re-engaging global institutions.”
A spokesman for Ms Tai said she would “collaborate” with Ms Truss and would “maintain an open line of communication.”
Ms Tai had previously raised alarm bells in Whitehall after she said not much had changed since Trump’s negotiations on a deal with the UK were initiated in 2018.
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She is currently reviewing the negotiations which had taken place under the Trump administration.
Speaking before the Senate Finance Committee, Ms Tai added: “It will be important to me to review the progress in the conversations so far, to review the objectives in light of all the changes that have taken place in the last two-and-a-half years.”
Figures from the House of Commons library revealed the UK exported £141billion of goods and services to the US in 2019, 21 percent of all exports.
The Express understands trade officials believe a UK trade deal with the US could be worth between £10billion and £12billion.