Politics

Joe Biden eyes UK-US free trade deal to unlock opportunities ‘denied by EU’

EU told to 'stop messing about on Brexit' by Hartley-Brewer

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson held talks with the US President for the first time on Thursday and described the 78-year-old as a “breath of fresh air”. Mr Biden chose to coincide his first foreign trip since taking over the White House with the G7 summit in Cornwall.

And he wasted no time in signing a new Atlantic Charter to strengthen the relationship between the two nations.

The charter will build on a 1941 agreement between Winston Churchill and President Franklin D Roosevelt and outlines eight areas of focus, including “building a fair and sustainable global trading system”.

The summit in St Ives is being chaired by the Prime Minister and aims to find a joint way for the seven largest economies to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and tackle the climate emergency.

Following a meeting, Downing Street said Mr Johnson and Mr Biden were looking at ways to “take this co-operation further by expanding trade and progression towards a future UK-US Free Trade Agreement”.

Professor Patrick Minford, a former chair of the Economists for Free Trade lobby group, has said a US-UK deal will expand the agriculture and manufacturing sectors and help to drive down prices for British shoppers.

The Professor of Applied Economics at Cardiff University explained the US would be able to take advantage of “export opportunities denied them by the EU”.

He told Express.co.uk: “A US trade deal is attractive to the UK because it will bring down consumer prices by allowing in at zero tariffs a wide range of food and manufactures from the US.

“For the US, the deal is attractive for these export opportunities denied by the EU.

“On services too… both sides have a lot to gain from lower barriers.

“This deal will join the one with Australia and other Pacific countries to open up our non-EU trade, and so bring down prices also on EU imports that will need to compete on price in our markets.”

The G7 summit on the South Coast threatened to be overshadowed by a row between London and Brussels over implantation of Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Protocol was created to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the integrity of EU markets.

Belfast has remained part of the EU single market and this has effectively put a trade border down the Irish Sea – resulting in increased checks and delays on goods.

White House officials have raised concerns over its potential impact on the peace process in Ireland, but Downing Street has since provided further reassurances.

Professor Minford does not expect the dispute surrounding the Protocol to hold up any future agreement between the UK and US.

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He said: “The Northern Ireland Protocol should not be an obstacle unless Biden sides with the EU over its unreasonable insistence on tough customs barriers in the Irish Sea, and on Northern Irish imports from the UK which will not go near the EU.

“I think Biden should see this point.”

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Johnson said: “America, the United States, Washington, the UK, plus the European Union have one thing we absolutely all want to do.

“And that is to uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, and make sure we keep the balance of the peace process going. That is absolutely common ground.”
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