For the last forty years Britain has traded with the US through European Union agreements. This week, Liam Fox, the International Trade secretary for the UK, will spend two days in Washington with his US counterpart Robert Lighzigier.
Although they will start to sketch out details of a post-Brexit trade deal, it will not be possible to sign a deal until after the UK leaves the EU. Mr Fox said it was too early to say exactly what would be covered in a potential deal. Business leaders and trade unions have both warned of the risks of trying to secure an agreement too quickly. According to the Department for International Trade, the talks are expected to focus on "providing certainty, continuity and increasing confidence for UK and US businesses as the UK leaves the EU". Liam Fox commented: "The [UK-US trade and investment] working group is the means to ensure we get to know each other's issues and identify areas where we can work together to strengthen trade and investment ties." Caution needed Unions and business leaders in the UK have warned that this could be a difficult period for the UK "We're just getting back into doing this sort of thing after 40 years of doing it via the EU," said Adam Marshall, the Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce. "So I think it would be concerning if the UK were to go up against the US on a complex and difficult negotiation early on in the process,." Writing in the Observer he added: “There is a huge risk that UK-based firms will continue to face higher upfront costs and regulatory requirements after any agreement, leaving them at an instant disadvantage to US competitors.” He said the focus should be on customs procedures rather than a full trade deal. The TUC (Trade Union Congress) and the Unite trade union have also warned against creating a rushed deal. Speaking to the Guardian, Frances O’Grady, for the TUC, said he would rather ministers concentrated on getting the best deal from the EU rather than a rushed deal with America. Michael Hughes, an economist, told the BBC’s World Business Report that in terms of financial services and agriculture the UK "would have to water down some of the standards it currently has, either in terms of genetically modified food or in terms of regulation of financial services firms operating in the UK, in order to get a deal.” According to UK government officials US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May have agreed to prioritise work on a post-Brexit trade deal.
Vocabulary Highlight the text for solutions
counterpart – person doing the same job in another organisation to sketch out – to look at general ideas, not deciding on detail risks – possible negative effects continuity – keeping things the same, stable the means to – the method, or resources needed to do something to water down – to make weaker
Can you use these vocabulary items to describe issues in your business?
Questions When can the UK start to sign trade deals? What does the BCC have concerns about? Does this affect your business?
Grammar What verb forms does Frances O’Grady use to express his wishes? He would rather ministers concentrated on getting the best deal from the EU rather than a rushed deal with America.
Highlight text for solutions or click for more grammar
Similar to a second conditional the past form with ‘would’ is used to signal a hypothetical or unreal situation. Mr O’Grady was expressing his opinion, perhaps you can guess whether he approves of the government’s actions, or not?