Boris Johnson ‘has been in touch’ with Joe Biden says Patel
Against all odds, Prime Minister Boris Johnson secured a trade agreement with the EU after nine months of fraught negotiations. During a press conference in Downing Street on Christmas Eve, Mr Johnson declared Britain had secured all of its negotiating objectives. He said: “We have taken back control of our laws and our destiny.
“It is a good deal for all of Europe.”
The deal is without a doubt a huge triumph for the Prime Minister, who two years ago won a thumping majority at the general election with the promise “to get Brexit done”.
Many are wondering whether Mr Johnson will be able to pull a similar move with the US.
The former Mayor of London put an agreement with the US at the heart of his plans to revive Britain after Brexit, but the election of Democratic nominee Joe Biden last November complicated things.
In September, Mr Biden wrote on Twitter: “Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the [Good Friday] Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”
It was the first in a series of discouraging comments linking potential effects of Brexit to a future trade deal.
Joe Biden ‘to extend law for US-UK deal’ as Boris Johnson eyes another trade victory
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Christmas Eve “the deal is done”
As he outlined his vision for his first few days in the White House last month, the former Vice President confirmed he is not prioritising a trade deal with the UK.
Instead, Mr Biden said he will adopt a similar “America First” policy to US President Donald Trump, fighting “like hell” to invest in US firms and employees.
Despite Mr Biden’s claims, a British Government adviser has told Express.co.uk that Mr Johnson is likely to bag another trade victory, as there has been a lot of talk in Washington about extending the Trade Promotion Authority just for the UK-US trade deal.
Shanker Singham, the CEO of economic consultancy Competere, said: “Any new US President has to focus on domestic policy for the first few months.
“He cannot seem to be leading with foreign policy and I expect Biden to be no different.
“He will be trying to offset the balance of the Trump administration, the anti-Europe approach.
“But at the end of the day, what does it mean for trade policy?”
President-elect Joe Biden
Trade expert Shanker Singham
Mr Singham noted: “A deal with the UK is the only deal a Democrat President like Biden can actually do, because there is no race to the bottom on labour and environment, there is no offshoring of US jobs.
“A UK deal that a Biden administration puts together is more likely to pass the US process and there has been a lot of talk about extending Trade Promotion Authority just for the UK deal.”
In July, an obscure piece of US legislation that both governs the process through which trade deals pass through Congress and sets out the overarching principles of US trade policy, expires.
When protected by that legislation — known as the Trade Promotion Authority — trade deals are effectively “fast-tracked” through the US Congress with lawmakers unable to make substantial changes or amendments to the text of the deal.
In order to be protected by the TPA, a US-UK trade deal must be put before the US Congress by April.
If that deadline is missed, the deal will either be put before Congress without the fast-track protections offered, and risk being bogged down in dispute, or UK officials could wait for a fresh TPA to be negotiated.
Mr Singham talked to several cross-party politicians in Congress, who all seemed excited about the prospect of a US-UK trade deal.
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Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal
He added: “It does seem to be coming from a lot of sources.
“I have had conversations with Richard Neal, who is the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
“Ron Wyden, who will be the Chairman of the Senate Finance committee.
“They all want a deal with the UK.
“If anything, that really has not changed.”
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss reportedly wants to build on current negotiations with the Trump administration and potentially add things like enhanced protections on air pollution and corporate transparency on climate change to coax Mr Biden’s team to the negotiating table.
Talks are said to be in “advanced stages”, with more than 50 percent of the deal believed to be completed.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss
Mr Johnson has emphasised his Government’s green credentials, and role as host of the Cop26 United Nations Climate Change Conference this year, in early talks with Mr Biden to try and forge a strong relationship with the President-elect.
A senior International Trade Department source told City A.M. that it is “no secret that we need to tick key political boxes to get a deal over the line with Biden” and that “the environment and climate change definitely will tick those boxes”.
Mr Biden appointed Katherine Tai as his new US Trade Representative last month, but it will take at least a couple of months for her to get confirmed by the US Senate.
Ms Truss and other trade ministers have not yet had any contact with Ms Tai, but are hoping to travel to the US to meet her shortly after she is confirmed by the Senate.
A source close to Ms Truss said: “The deal is at a stage where it can be adapted to the new administration and there’s particular scope to go further in environment and climate change now.
“We have a very good relationship with US officials, the SME chapter is ready to go and we really are in advanced stages of negotiations.”
A Department of International Trade spokesperson added: “We look forward to working with the incoming administration on our shared priorities from climate change to trade and security.
“Significant progress has already been made on our trade negotiations and the UK stands ready to build on this and strengthen the economic partnership between our two countries.”
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