Since its establishment in July 2017 by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.K. Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox, the working group has been focusing on providing commercial continuity for businesses from the two countries as the U.K. leaves the EU and has been laying the groundwork for a post-Brexit U.S.-U.K. FTA, USTR said.
During the recent meeting in Washington, officials continued to exchange information on trade policy issues to build on the strength of the existing bilateral trade and investment relationship and ensure both sides are “well-prepared” to open trade negotiations after the U.K. leaves the EU in 2019, USTR said.
DIT collected public comments on a potential FTA with the U.S. through Oct. 26, and the U.K. government is reviewing the comments and will respond “in due course,” USTR said. Lighthizer notified U.S. Congress last month of the Trump administration’s intent to start FTA talks with the U.S. after the U.K. leaves the EU on March 29.
USTR and U.K. Department for International Trade (DIT) officials led the working group delegations and included delegations from a “wide range” of both governments’ departments and agencies, USTR said.
Topics covered include industrial and agricultural goods, services and investment, digital trade, intellectual property (IP) rights, trade-related regulatory issues and small and medium-sized enterprises.
The two countries also held the third meeting on Nov. 1 of the U.S.-U.K. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) Dialogue, which focused on digital trade benefits for SMEs and e-commerce tools to promote SME exports, USTR said.
More than 100 U.S. and U.K. SME stakeholders met with officials of several U.S. and U.K. agencies.
The countries released joint e-commerce guides for small businesses selling into both markets. The e-commerce guide for U.S. small businesses to sell online in the U.K. covers issues including U.K. value-added taxes, steps to develop an e-commerce strategy and protecting IP on e-commerce sites.
The U.K. will host the fourth SME Dialogue in the summer of 2019. It will focus on the post-Brexit U.S.-U.K. trade and commercial relationship, and the two countries agreed to hold a sectoral-focused SME “best practice” exchange on marine technology on April 9 at the Oceans Business conference in Southampton, U.K.
USTR noted that the U.S. and U.K. account for more than $230 billion in trade per year.