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UK strikes first post-Brexit trade deal with a US state

·Finance Reporter, Yahoo Finance UK
·2 min read
Brexit Assistants carry flags into a room ahead of a press conference held by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in London, January 22, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville
A US-UK free trade agreement was promised as a major prize from Brexit. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

The UK signed its first trade agreement with a US state as hopes for a post-Brexit deal with the whole of the US fade.

The deal with the corn belt state of Indiana is being hailed by Downing Street as “a major milestone” from which businesses will “start reaping the rewards”.

The agreement with Indiana will help remove barriers to trade and investment, improve procurement processes and pave the way for professional qualifications to be recognised in both countries.

The deal with Indiana “is a major milestone for UK-US trade relations,” British trade minister Penny Mordaunt said in an emailed statement.

Talks are underway with around 20 other states and the Department for International Trade expects around eight “memorandum of understandings” to be agreed soon.

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The UK government has been in talks with states including California, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

But prime minister Boris Johnson’s stance on Brexit is hindering progress on a broader deal with Joe Biden’s administration.

Talks have been largely frozen since Biden took office, with Johnson’s threat of plans to tear up the Northern Ireland protocol remaining a major sticking point.

Johnson called a US-UK free trade agreement one of the major prizes of Brexit.

The new strategy is being pursued after Joe Biden made it clear that a US-UK free trade agreement is off the table.

The UK has been advancing post-Brexit trade negotiations, starting talks with Canada and Mexico as part of a foreign policy tilt towards the Pacific.

Officials in London still hope talks with Washington can ultimately produce an overarching free trade agreement.

Read more: Brexit: Over 7,000 finance jobs traded London for EU

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the trade secretary, said: “Our ambitious agreement with Indiana will help deliver value to UK businesses and support our areas of shared interest, such as levelling up.

“This is Global Britain in action, making innovative deals on the world stage — and will help UK companies grow faster, innovate more and support jobs and economic growth.”

Watch more: Brexit: Minister says UK's focus is peace in Northern Ireland as US warns trade deal at risk over protocol change