When the Brexit debate was roaring in the UK, one of the arguments that was made in favor of the referendum was that the country would be able to make new trade deals with other countries without the overshadowing of the EU. The new-found independence in trade would also be part of the larger vision to forge a “Global Britain” that would enable the country to once again stand as a leading power outside of the European bloc.
In part, this has come true. Since Brexit, the UK has signed over 70 trade deals with countries around the world. Recently, Britain also ascended to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade bloc comprised of 11 Asian-Pacific countries that together are worth 14 per cent of the global economy. Yet, despite these recent breakthroughs, the long-awaited trade deal with the US has yet to materialise.
The controversy surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol presented itself as a key obstacle for the trade deal between America and the UK. President Biden wanted this issue resolved before negotiations would continue. Frequently citing his Irish heritage, the American President was committed to maintaining peace across the Irish border and he leveraged the prospect of a trade deal to ensure his British counterparts resolved the issue.
For a time, it seemed the UK might be stuck in a never-ending limbo over Northern Ireland. On one hand, the Government was adamant in asserting its sovereignty over Northern Ireland. On the other, this desire had taken the country further away from a trade deal with its closest ally. This grim feeling was only magnified when Boris Johnson visited the White House two years ago just to return with a mere lifting of the British lamb ban – not quite the same as a free trade agreement!
Thankfully, with the signing of the Windsor Framework which resolved tensions over Northern Ireland with the EU, the stage is finally set for a US-UK trade deal that would reap immense benefits for both sides.
A bilateral trade agreement would enable two of the world’s largest economies to strengthen one another in shared values, such as democratic government and the principle of free trade. This is a necessary step to secure a sustainable future for the free world, especially in the face of the growing tide of authoritarianism across the globe.
In addition to strengthening the bond between the two nations, this trade deal would also make both the British and American economies more competitive. By allowing American and British producers to expand their operations into new markets across the Atlantic, consumers would be able to gain access to high quality goods at cheaper costs. This would also allow the UK to diversify its markets and begin moving away from its reliance on Europe. This is an opportunity that Ben Bradley MP had previously addressed in his 1828 article, in which he cautioned against Britain remaining over-reliant on the continent for its economic future.
The economic benefits of a US – UK deal are undeniable. However, more importantly, the deal would also be the stamp of approval from the United States on the post-Brexit Britain, solidifying the “Special Relationship” these countries have. A “Global Britain” must be globally recognised. Trade is not just about the exchange of goods but also the establishing of a relationship.
The country remains divided over the issue and its domestic politics seems to be in a continual spiral. One does not project confidence by looking at its feet and neither does a nation. The journey has been tough but a trade deal with the US might just be the antidote Britain needs.