UK ‘Confident’ of Major Post-Brexit Trade Deal With US

November 2, 2020 Updated: November 2, 2020

Britain and the United States are making significant progress in their ongoing trade talks and are confident they’ll be able to reach a comprehensive agreement, the UK’s trade ministry said on Monday.

The two countries recently concluded the fifth round of negotiations on a UK–U.S. free trade agreement (FTA), which took place from Oct. 19 to 30.

“This was the most intensive round of negotiations held so far, with 38 sessions covering 19 different chapter areas,” the Department for International Trade (DIT) said in a statement.

Liz Truss UK trade
Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade, leaves 10 Downing Street in London on Feb. 13, 2020. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Almost all chapter areas are now in the advanced stages of talks, the statement said, adding that a significant proportion of legal text has been agreed across multiple chapters.

The fifth round of talks included focused discussions on market access for goods, including negotiations around product-specific rules of origin, which determines whether or not a product can benefit from preferential tariffs under the FTA.

The two countries’ negotiating teams also “held detailed textual discussions on a Digital chapter and agreed much of the legal framework for a future agreement,” the DIT said.

Following the “significant progress” made in talks to date, the department said, “both sides are confident that we are on track for a comprehensive agreement which would provide a significant and mutual benefit to our economies.”

Both sides believe they are “in a good position to move forward after the U.S. election,” which takes place on Tuesday, according to the statement, adding that they have “agreed a programme for continued talks at official level for the weeks following the U.S. election.”

UK Japan trade
Britain’s International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi bump elbows during their news conference following a signing ceremony of the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in Tokyo on Oct. 23, 2020. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Britain sees securing a trade deal with the United States as one of the big prizes on offer after the country left the European Union in January and began negotiating its own bilateral deals.

Britain signed its first major post-Brexit FTA with Japan just over a week ago, in what the government hailed as a “historic moment.”

The UK–Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was signed on Oct. 23 in Tokyo by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Japan’s Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu.

The UK–Japan deal had been widely seen as one the easiest within reach for London, being based largely on the EU–Japan agreement.

Reuters contributed to this report.