US and UK officials initiate talks to strengthen trade ties

© . FILE PHOTO: The United States and United Kingdom flags are up after the bilateral photo between US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UK Secretary of State Boris Johnson was canceled at the State Department in Washington, US 22 March 201 By Andrea Shalal BALTIMORE , Md. () – US and British officials began Monday with two days of meetings to strengthen trade ties, underscoring transatlantic cooperation at a time when Western countries are mounting pressure on Russia over its war in Ukraine. The talks in the port city of Baltimore mark a broad effort to take stock of the $260 billion bilateral trade relationship, while specific disputes will be dealt with separately and formal talks on a free trade agreement remain on ice. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the two allies had resolved disputes over aircraft subsidies and taxes on digital services over the past year, and are now working closely together to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. “In the struggle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are coming to the fore and the world is clearly siding with peace and security, so it has never been more important for us to work to strengthen our economic ties with our closest allies. like the United Kingdom,” Tai told a plenary meeting attended by dozens of US and British executives and trade officials. Tai said US and UK officials would work to establish mutual trade priorities and promote “innovation and inclusive economic growth for citizens on both sides of the Atlantic.” The US’s top priorities are working together to expand protection of labor rights and the environment, decarbonize their economies, promote racial and gender equality, build more resilient supply chains, and harness the “democratizing” benefits of the digital economy, US officials said. British Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan later told business and union leaders that the massive shocks of recent years and weeks, a clear reference to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, showed “that resilience and a different way of doing business Protectionism is not the solution.” Trevelyan said Britain aims to “forge even closer trade and investment ties between us, because together we do more business than any other country in the world.” PENALTIES AND TARIFFS Close coordination of economic sanctions, export controls and trade measures against Russia has also brought the United States and Europe closer together in addressing the challenges of non-market economies like China, a US official said. Cathy Feingold, who heads the international branch of the trade union federation AFL-CIO, applauded efforts to give workers a voice in shaping trade policy and moving away from free trade policies that resulted in “brutal global competition”, lower wages and lower standards. to live in both countries. “Our countries need to be aligned in dealing with non-market economies like China and Russia and Belarus,” she said. “By building a unified approach, we can more effectively create global rules that create fair competition and higher labor and environmental standards.” The two sides are “making good progress” in separate talks to resolve a dispute over US steel and aluminum tariffs that paved the way for this week’s broader talks, Trevelyan said. Those talks are ongoing, another British official said. Washington also remains concerned about UK food safety standards prohibiting imports of chlorine-treated chicken from the US, but will address that issue separately, a second official said. This week’s meetings will not mark a resumption of formal free trade talks under the former Trump administration that were suspended when President Joe Biden took office, much to the chagrin of business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. Duncan Edwards, chief executive of BritishAmerican Business, a transatlantic trade group representing 450 companies, welcomed the meetings, adding: “We would much rather see actual discussions on the free trade agreement resume.” Marjorie Chorlins, senior vice president at the US Chamber of Commerce, agreed, adding: “We should have been able to resume US-UK negotiations. We were in five rounds and a lot of great work has been done. .” Washington has hit the pause button on such deals, which have historically been viewed with skepticism by union leaders and regarded them as “just one tool at our disposal.” The two sides will meet again in Britain later this spring, but the location has not yet been finalized, officials said.

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