UK seals first state deal with Indiana

The UK expects to complete at least five more trade accords with individual US states this year, having signed the first one with Indiana at the weekend.

uk and us trade deal
The Memorandum of Understanding deal with Indiana was described as "a major milestone for UK-US trade relations” by Penny Mordaunt, a British trade minister.

However, deals with individual states deal will not lower tariffs or quotas on goods going in either direction as this can only be achieved by a comprehensive trade deal with the US federal government - something that remains elusive, particularly given White House concerns over the current UK-EU impasse over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The UK is set to complete more trade deals with the US

Instead, the MoU deals that the UK is currently trying to negotiate with about 20 states will cover issues such as the mutual recognition of professional qualifications and improved access to procurement contracts.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the UK hoped to complete "about half a dozen" state agreements over the course of this year. "It's mostly around services but there will be some opportunities for procurement to access,” she added.

Although the government in London has not said which states are likely to be the next ones to sign MoUs, sources suggested California, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas and South Carolina are high on the list.

The first accord was signed in Indianapolis by UK Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena and Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. Mr Jayawardena said: "It’s been fantastic to see the depth and breadth of interest from Indiana industry in trading with the United Kingdom.

"With the signing of this MoU, British businesses can capitalise on the great opportunities for collaboration in areas like innovation and manufacturing."

The Department for International Trade in London said the agreement offered UK firms with significant opportunities in areas such as renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.

In addition to improving procurement processes, the MoU seeks to strengthen academic and research ties, and to promote mutual professional equivalence, enabling workers from the UK and US to have their professional qualifications recognised on both sides of the Atlantic.

UK trades with 'entrepreneurial powerhouse' city

The Department for International Trade said in a statement: "Indiana is an entrepreneurial powerhouse, offering UK firms significant opportunities in areas like renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.

"The UK is the seventh largest export market for Indiana, and the state buys $1.4 billion worth of goods from the UK. This agreement will act as a springboard to grow this even further."

William Bain, head of trade policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, welcomed the Indiana deal and said businesses would hope this represented the first stage in a process to reach a comprehensive UK-US trade deal.

“We want to see cuts to the costs and red tape for exporters, help for supply chain co-operation, new opportunities for green trade, secure mutual recognition of professional qualifications, wider services access and new business travel options," he said.

While the Biden Administration has been reluctant to discuss a free trade deal with the UK, the two nations have begun a transatlantic dialogue over pressing challenges, including congested supply chains and climate change.
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