May 5 (UPI) — The United States and Britain will begin negotiations Tuesday on a post-Brexit free-trade agreement.
Britain International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is set to participate a video call with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, alongside about 100 officials from both sides, in the first round of talks that are scheduled to last for two weeks.
Negotiators will begin the discussions by video conference due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Britain has been preparing for the discussions for months since departing the European Union at the end of January. Britain must also stage negotiations for a new trade agreement with the EU.
“We will drive a hard bargain that benefits every part of the U.K. and works for the small businesses who are suffering most in this difficult period,” Truss said.
“The U.S. is our largest trading partner and increasing transatlantic trade can help our economies bounce back from the economic challenge posed by coronavirus,” she added.
Truss said the goal of the discussions will be to open new markets for British businesses, garner new investments and create new jobs.
“Increasing transatlantic trade can help our economies bounce back from the economic challenge posed by coronavirus,” she said.
U.S. President Donald Trump has called the potential for a new U.S.-British trade deal “massive.” Trump has led the charge to renegotiate multiple trade agreements since he took office more than three years ago, including a replacement for the 25-year-old U.S. pact with Canada and Mexico. U.S. negotiators are also still locked in talks with China following a “phase one” agreement.
Transitional trade talks between Britain and the EU began in March and an agreement was originally due by the end of the year, but the health crisis has postponed the deadline.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called on London to reach a deal with the 27-member bloc “as quickly as possible” to rectify a “lack of certainty” about how it will move forward from the separation.
“We continue to believe it makes sense for the U.K. to reset its relationship with the E.U. before it turns to setting the terms of its trade ties with other partners,” the chamber said in a statement.
The U.S. chamber said both sides should consider goals that include lifting punitive tariffs on industrial goods, protecting intellectual property and facilitating in a single comprehensive agreement.