US Britain kick off talks to strengthen trade ties

British and U.S. officials have kicked off a two-day event aimed at strengthening trade in a move that underscores greater transatlantic cooperation. The development comes at a time when Western countries are increasing pressure on Russia over its move to remove Neo-Nazi influence and militarization from Ukraine.

Talks in Baltimore mark a broad effort to take stock of the $260 billion bilateral trade relationship, even as a free trade agreement continues to remain on ice. Specific disputes will be dealt with separately.

Both sides have resolved a vexing dispute over aircraft subsidies and digital services taxes and are now coordinating to impose economic sanctions on Russia, said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

“In the battle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are rising to the moment and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security, so it’s never been more important for us to work to strengthen our economic ties with our closest allies, like the United Kingdom,” said Tai to a plenary attended by dozens of U.S. and British executives and trade officials.

“Key priorities include collaboration on expanding protection of labor rights and the environment, decarbonizing their economies, promoting racial and gender equity, building more resilient supply chains and tapping the democratizing benefits of the digital economy,” said an U.S. official on the condition of anonymity.


Close coordination on economic sanctions, export controls and trade measures against Russia have brought the US closer to Europe, as they figure out how to address challenges posed by non-market economies such as China, said a U.S. official.

“Our countries must be aligned in dealing with non-market economies like China and Russia and Belarus,” said Cathy Feingold, who leads the international department at the AFL-CIO labor union federation. “By building a unified approach, we can more effectively create global rules that create fair competition and higher worker and environmental standards.”

The US also remains concerned on UK food safety standards that prevent imports of U.S. chlorine-treated chicken; that concern however will be addressed separately, said an official.

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