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Climate change: Shared goals could pave way for UK and US trade deal

·Finance Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
Climate change: Boris Johnson and Joe Biden
Climate change: Prime minister Boris Johnson’s stance on Brexit is hindering progress on a broader trade deal with Joe Biden’s administration. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The current US trade policy focus on improving conditions for American workers and ambitions on tackling climate change could provide a potential ‘landing zone’ for negotiations with the UK on a trade deal.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said “the moment is ripe” to agree key elements of a new kind of trade partnership with the US, despite the “superficially divergent aims” of the UK government and the Biden administration.

In a report, the IPPR called for a shared framework for talks that would ultimately lead to a comprehensive US/UK trade package, focusing on areas of shared concern to both.

Read more: UK strikes first post-Brexit trade deal with a US state

These include forced labour, with the think tank urging the UK to follow US’s lead and commit to legislate an import ban targeting goods made with forced labour, and a joint commitment to prohibit imports of products from illegally deforested land.

The think tank also believes there is common ground to work on shared commitments around improved labour and environmental standards, carbon leakage and on sustainable steel and aluminium.

These would be the first steps towards a full free trade agreement embedding both countries’ net zero ambitions, agreeing labour and environmental protections and safeguarding the UK’s food standards, the report said.

“More than ever, trade policy is not simply about trade. The UK and the US under president Biden have a unique opportunity to develop a framework to both strengthen trade ties and help deliver other strategic goals that are important to both countries,” Marley Morris, IPPR associate director who leads the think tank’s work on trade, said.

“A new progressive trade partnership should build on the recent dialogues on the future of Atlantic trade held by the US and the UK, and firmly tie trade policy to the broader social and environmental agenda that our two democracies share,” he added.

The UK’s hopes of a favourable post-Brexit trade deal with the US have so far been undermined by prime minister Boris Johnson’s stance on Brexit.

Read more: UK and US strike trade deal to end tariffs on British steel

Talks have been largely frozen since Biden took office, with Johnson’s threat of plans to tear up the Northern Ireland protocol remaining a major sticking point.

Johnson called a US-UK free trade agreement one of the major prizes of Brexit.

So far it has signed a deal with Indiana and talks are underway with around 20 other states, with the Department for International Trade expecting around eight “memorandum of understandings” to be agreed soon.

The UK has been advancing post-Brexit trade negotiations, starting talks with Canada and Mexico as part of a foreign policy tilt towards the Pacific.

Watch: What does a Joe Biden presidency in the US mean for the global economy?