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UK Trade Agreement Negotiating Objectives Released

Friday, March 08, 2019
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has released its negotiating objectives in 24 areas for a U.S. trade agreement with the United Kingdom. USTR has said negotiations with the UK will begin “as soon as it is ready” after its departure from the European Union, which is currently scheduled for March 29.

(Click here to register for ST&R’s March 27 webinar on this and other recent trade developments.)

Annual U.S.-UK trade totals more than $230 billion and the U.S. ran a $15.9 billion trade surplus with the UK in 2017. However, USTR states that multiple tariff and non-tariff barriers have challenged U.S. exporters in key sectors while the UK has been a member of the EU. In a potential trade agreement the U.S. will seek to address these barriers, achieve “fairer and deeper trade,” and “develop new approaches to emerging trade areas” such as digital trade and financial services.

With regard to trade in goods, the U.S. will seek to increase transparency in import and export licensing procedures and discipline import and export monopolies to prevent trade distortions. On industrial goods, objectives include comprehensive duty-free treatment, including for textile and apparel products; expanded market access for remanufactured goods exports; and greater regulatory compatibility to facilitate U.S. exports. On agricultural goods, goals include reducing or eliminating tariffs, reasonable adjustment periods for U.S. import-sensitive agricultural products, eliminating restrictive rules in the administration of tariff-rate quotas, and specific commitments for trade in products developed through agricultural biotechnologies.

On customs and trade facilitation, the U.S. will seek to ensure that shipments are released immediately after determining compliance with applicable laws and regulations, to the greatest extent possible, and provide for new disciplines on the timing of release, automation, and use of guaranties. Additional objectives in this area include streamlined and expedited customs treatment for express delivery shipments; simplified customs procedures for low-value goods and a more reciprocal de minimis shipment value; automation of import, export, and transit processes; enhanced harmonization of customs data requirements; uniformity in customs treatment of goods; use of risk management systems for customs control and post-clearance audit procedures; and disciples on the use of customs brokers and reusable containers.

Other specific negotiating objectives include procedures that streamline the certification and verification of rules of origin and promote strong enforcement, commitments not to impose customs duties on digital products, UK initiatives to prohibit the importation of goods produced by forced labor, new procedures to address the evasion of antidumping and countervailing duties, a mechanism to take appropriate action if the UK negotiates a free trade agreement with a non-market country (e.g., China), and ensuring that the UK avoids manipulating exchange rates to prevent effective balance of payments adjustment or to gain an unfair competitive advantage.

For more information on these negotiating objectives or how a potential U.S.-UK could benefit your business, please contact Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956.

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