The second UK-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiating round took place from 15-26 June 2020.
Talks continued to be positive and constructive, with progress being made towards a comprehensive agreement. Discussions spanned the majority of areas covered by the FTA, with further sessions coming over the next two weeks on the remaining major policy areas. This follows almost 20 intersessional meetings held in between rounds one and two.
The Government are clear there is no set deadline for this agreement. Quality is more important than speed. Any deal the Government strikes must be fair, reciprocal and ultimately in the best interests of the British people and the economy. Furthermore, the Government remain clear on protecting the NHS and not compromising on the UK’s high environmental protection, animal welfare and food safety standards.
During the round, talks advanced across a number of chapters and teams are now into detailed discussions on text.
There was good progress on a dedicated SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) chapter. This included agreement that the next formal UK-US SME dialogue will be held in Boston in October 2020.
UK negotiators also underlined the importance of high ambition on services, with financial services particularly vital to any final agreement.
On professional business services, both sides agreed to go further than existing precedent and agree provisions that reflect the strength of the UK-US relationship. This included a discussion on how best to support regulators pursue closer collaboration on the recognition of qualifications and licencing.
There was also discussion of specific proposals that might benefit the legal services sector.
More work needs to be done and both sides committed in the round to a full programme of engagement ahead of round three. Talks scheduled over the coming weeks include rules of origin, market access, digital, telecoms, intellectual property and business mobility.
The third negotiating round is expected to take place at the end of July.
Below is a summary list of those areas discussed in the round, which continued to take place through video conferencing:
Services sectors—professional business services
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
Cross cutting services
Good regulatory practice (GRP)
Customs and trade facilitation
Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS)
Legal group—core text
State owned enterprises
Technical barriers to trade
Other issues—including innovation and women’s economic empowerment