UK-US trade: a renewed Atlantic charter for the 21st century

Imran Ahmad Khan

June 19, 2020

Trade negotiations between the United Kingdom and the United States of America present a rare and valuable opportunity to renew, redefine and repurpose the joint partnership on a relationship founded upon mutual trust and friendship. No bilateral relationship is built on stronger and more enduring foundations. Our common values and complementary cultures illustrate this.

The globalised world is in a state of flux. Washington and London must exploit this opportunity to enhance not only our trade, but also to refocus and reposition our global vision and bolster both our defence and security. Our two nations have long been dear friends and close allies. With shared history, language, legal fundaments, and deeply held values that have long defined us. Namely individual freedom, free markets, and democratic accountability.

Winston Churchill understood the importance of this relationship when composing the Atlantic charter in 1941. Current negotiations should be seen as this generation’s chance to draft its own charter anew. Setting out our shared objectives for the next eight decades as the first Atlantic charter did for the last.

An ambitious, expansive and comprehensive free trade agreement that respects the national interests of both sides would be indicative of our shared objectives. Few aspects of trade should be neglected from consideration. Tariff reductions and the removal of a few barriers will not suffice. Only a comprehensive free trade deal supporting a renewed and restated declaration of shared objectives will.

It is vital that these negotiations should not be confined to just free trade. They should be conducted with the ambition of renewing our enduring alliance. Our two nations should offer our experts and advisers to one another’s ministries and departments. This would provide our systems and officials with increasing familiarity and strategic direction to secure our shared objective while simultaneously ensuring our ministries receive better guidance, understanding and advice.

Even the manner in which trade negotiations are conducted can be redefined, by running talks predicated on capturing shared objectives in parallel, completing each chapter of the deal, and having them ratified by parliament and congress when completed.

Consumers should have the ability to choose from all (safe) products provided by the market. By excluding certain imports and forcing on them restrictive, protectionist standards, we limit what the market can provide to individuals.

Not everyone, for example, can afford expensive free range or organic chicken, and they should not be restricted in their choice of products on account of what they can afford. Indeed, governments should not decide what people eat – that is entirely the prerogative of the individual to make that decision. You and I can exercise our rights and not purchase such items, but to ban others from purchasing something gives me grave concerns.

And a free trade deal will not cause a “race to the bottom” in quality of produce either. Markets are vast and ever-changing creatures, ones that continuously adjust to new dynamics, demands and supplies. Opening up the United Kingdom to new markets will enrich consumers with a greater variety of products to choose from. And our high-quality produce has the opportunity to be exported and sold in new markets where they are demanded.

Boris Johnson is the most pro-American leader we have had since Margaret Thatcher, and has long spoken of enhancing transatlantic ties. As the government seeks to realise its vision for Global Britain, we now have a great opportunity to redefine our relationship with the United States through the medium of a new comprehensive, expansive and ambitious free trade deal.


  • Imran Ahmad Khan

    Imran Ahmad Khan is the Member of Parliament for Wakefield. Before entering Parliament, Imran worked for the United Nations as a special assistant for political affairs in Mogadishu.

Written by Imran Ahmad Khan

Imran Ahmad Khan is the Member of Parliament for Wakefield. Before entering Parliament, Imran worked for the United Nations as a special assistant for political affairs in Mogadishu.


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