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UK plans to cut tariffs on US agricultural imports

14 May 2020

The UK is planning to cut tariffs on US agricultural imports to hasten progress on possible free trade agreement.

According to the Financial Times and Reuters, the UK’s Department for International Trade is considering a “big concession package” to US negotiators over the coming months to cut the cost of certain agricultural imports.

The package has been led by UK trade minister Liz Truss, but is facing internal opposition from Defra Secretary George Eustice, who has raised concerns that the move would undercut UK farmers.

Last week, the US and UK launched formal negotiations on a free trade deal, vowing to work quickly to secure a seal that could counter the massive drag of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis on trade flows and the two countries’ economies.

The virtual talks will involve over 300 US and UK staff and officials in nearly 30 negotiating groups.

Agriculture was expected to be one of the thorniest issues in the trade talks as the British public remains strongly opposed to US genetically modified crops and antibacterial and hormone treatments for poultry and beef.

Trade in goods between the United States and United Kingdom was valued at $127.1 billion in 2018, with the two sides roughly in balance, while the services trade topped $134.8 billion. Britain is the seventh-largest US goods trading partner, after South Korea, according to the US Census Bureau.

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