On February 28, 2019, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) submitted to Congress and released to the public a summary of the Trump administration’s specific negotiating objectives for its United States-United Kingdom trade agreement negotiations. This follows the USTR’s notification to Congress on October 16, 2018, of the Trump administration’s intention to enter into negotiations (see Trump and Trade Updates dated October 17, 2018 and November 16, 2018), the submission of public comments – over 133 total – concerning negotiating objectives for any trade agreement with the UK, and a January 29, 2019 USTR hearing at which 24 witnesses testified on negotiating objectives.
The USTR has stated that its aim in the negotiations is to address both tariff and non-tariff barriers and to achieve fairer, more balanced trade. The introduction to the negotiating objectives notes that “the President intends to negotiate a trade agreement with the United Kingdom (UK) once it leaves the European Union (EU).” It notes, “As the first and fifth biggest global economies, the U.S. economic relationship with the UK is one of the largest and most complex in the world, with annual two-way trade totaling more than $230 billion. Despite this significant trade volume, multiple tariff and non-tariff barriers have challenged U.S. exporters in key sectors while the UK has been a Member State of the EU and therefore a part of the common trade policy of the EU. The UK’s decision to leave the EU creates a new opportunity to expand and deepen the U.S.-UK trade relationship.” The summary document consists of brief bullet point objectives for such issues as Trade in Goods; Customs and Trade Facilitation; Rules of Origin; Technical Barriers to Trade; Trade in Services; Intellectual Property; Labor; Environment; Trade Remedies; Dispute Settlement; and other trade-related areas of focus for the negotiations.