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UK looks to sign 'ambitious' FTA with US championing SMEs

Business leaders across Texas have met with International Trade Minister Conor Burns to discuss the benefits of a future trade agreement, after the UK government highlighted that signing a new ambitious free trade agreement with the US is one of its top priorities.

UK looks to sign 'ambitious' FTA with US championing SMEs
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FTA with US championing SMEs

Business and industry leaders met with Mr Burns in Texas to discuss the benefits of future UK-US free trade agreement, with the UK pledging that it will champion UK business and unlock new markets for SMEs in the US.

During his trip, Mr Burns has visited Houston where he hosted a lunch with British businesses based in the city and toured NASA to promote the UK aerospace industry. 

He then travelled to College Station to give a speech to students at Texas A&M university, and to Fort Worth where he hosted a roundtable with UK defence and aerospace firms.

According to the government discussions focused on a range of issues including the opportunities available to strengthen current trade and investment ties between the UK and Texas, worth almost $14 billion in 2018 alone, as well as the wider benefits of a future UK-US FTA and the advantages of reducing non-tariff barriers for businesses.

"I am delighted to be in the great state of Texas this week to demonstrate the opportunity of such a deal. If Texas were a country it would be the 10th largest economy in the world," Mr Burns said.

"A future trade agreement could help reduce barriers and bring benefits to thousands of small businesses by reducing costs while also strengthening sectors like manufacturing and professional and business services where we already enjoy a strong trading relationship. As we work towards the US-UK FTA there is much we can do at a state level to increase trade."

The UK is currently the largest single foreign investor in Texas. Bilateral trade between the UK and Texas was worth almost $14 billion in 2018 alone; roughly twice as much as trade between the UK and Mexico.

According to the government, a total 86 per cent of UK businesses exporting goods to the US are SMEs. As such, the UK is committed to negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement with the US that will lower tariffs, encourage investment and enable SMEs to take advantage of the trade opportunities generated.

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