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Kemi Badenoch launches bid for three new mini US trade deals in Brexit pre-election boost

13 February 2024, 18:35

Ms Badenoch is aiming to finalise mini-US trade deals
Ms Badenoch is aiming to finalise mini-US trade deals. Picture: Alamy
Natasha Clark

By Natasha Clark

Trade chief Kemi Badenoch will launch mini trade deal talks with another three American states to try and secure a pre-election Brexit boost.

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Ministers are kicking off discussions with New York, Colorado and Oregon in the coming weeks, LBC can reveal.

New York's huge £2trillion dollar economy could be opened up to British markets if a deal is signed in the coming months.

But a bumper US-wide deal is still off the table for now.

Seven mini-deals have already been struck with individual states to try and boost trade links.

Those include links with Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, Washington, and Florida.

They have a combined GDP of £3.4trillion - bigger than France - and imported £7.3billion of British goods since the deals were signed.

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A government official said: “Joe Biden has taken the option of a US trade deal off the table so we're targeting individual states instead.

“Some of these states have bigger GDPs bigger than major European countries and their economies fit perfectly with what UK firms are looking for.

“Take our biggest to date - Florida - which has a massive aerospace industry as the home of NASA, and the UK aerospace industry is eager to do more business with them.

“This is just the start, and with more state-level discussions starting all the time, we're using our Brexit freedoms to build new trade relationships with the US.”

The UK has all-but given up hope of striking a US deal under President Joe Biden, who has made it clear he has other priorities.

It comes as Ms Badenoch signed a new trade agreement with Nigeria today in a bid to boost investment in Britain - the first with an African nation.

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And ministers are confident that they will be able to strike the long-awaited deal with India by the time they and the UK head to the polls this year, despite reports they are pressuring them to water an agreement down.

The next few weeks are expected to be crucial for talks as India will vote in April.

One source said: "Not everyone will get what they want, but we think we can get it over the line."

Many Tory MPs see Ms Badenoch - a leading Brexiteer on the right of the party - as a potential successor to Rishi Sunak if he loses the election.

The India deal has been held up repeatedly despite Boris Johnson's promise to get it done by Diwali in 2022 - partly thought to be over issues of migration rules for workers and businesses.

But the Government has insisted that migration will not play a part in any deal.

Thirteen rounds of talks have already taken place, but Delhi is stepping up the pressure to get it over the line in time for their own elections.

Remaining issues are thought to include differences over Scotch whiskey and car tariffs, and pharmaceutical products.

India is also reported to be concerned about their workers paying National Insurance if they come here on business visas - despite having no access to pensions.

They are also said to be pushing the UK for guarantees that Indian students can stay in the UK for two years after graduation - which could spark another huge row over migration.

Labour's shadow business and trade secretaries visited India earlier this week - the party has said they will attempt to seal a deal if Rishi Sunak cannot do so before the election.

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