News: 53% of UK business leaders believe Free Trade Agreement with USA should be prioritised

Results published during 2nd UK-US Maritime Nations Forum aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth in Maryland

  • On Wednesday 20th November, the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier hosted the second UK-USA Maritime Nations Forum in Maryland.
  • The forum brought together business leaders and CEOs from across the US and UK.
  • The second bilateral transatlantic forum focused on increasing trade between the two countries and how the sector can work toward decarbonisation. 
  • A new survey of UK business leaders reveals, launched during the forum, reveals a desire to prioritise an FTA with the US if the UK leaves the EU Customs Union.

A new survey launched during the second UK-USA Maritime Nations Forum shows that UK business leaders have revealed they favour the prioritisation of a UK-US Free Trade Agreement, if the UK leaves the EU Customs Union. 

Business leaders ranked the US as the most important market for a new FTA, marking the importance of the UK-US relationship.

HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s flagship aircraft carrier docked in Annapolis, Maryland, on 20th November, for the second UK-USA Maritime Nations Forum, where collaboration between the countries was at the forefront of the agenda. The UK delegation learned from the US experience of free ports, following the British government’s announcement that it will work with industry to create ten free ports in the UK. 

Harry Theochari, Chair of Maritime UK, said:

“The UK and US are natural global partners, and no sector is more global or critical to trade than maritime.

“Preparing to leave the EU has asked new questions of our businesses – and necessitated a different way of thinking about trade and growth markets. Regardless of what happens with Brexit, that fresh thinking can only be a good thing.”

The forum brought together CEOs from across the maritime sector in both countries to focus on two key issues. The first, to identify barriers to increasing trade between the UK and US and the second to seek an agreement on how to respond to the challenge of decarbonisation in the sector.

With the UK leaving the European Union, there is an opportunity to seriously assess barriers to trade between the two nations as well as the opportunities available to grow existing trade relationships further. There is no single sovereign market more important to the UK than the US. But there is significant scope to grow the relationship further still, which is what the forum is all about.

The presence of Britain's flagship was both a statement of UK ambition and commitment to upholding the global rules-based order and is considered a triumph in British design, manufacturing, engineering and skills.

Harry Theochari went on to say:

“Our UK delegation represents the best of British – cutting-edge technology, high-quality design and manufacturing, unparalleled services expertise and stable, dependable investment opportunities.

“Britain’s flagship the HMS Queen Elizabeth symbolises both the UK’s capability and our unshakable commitment to protecting the global rules-based order upon which our sector and country relies.

“The second UK-US Maritime Nations Forum focused on how our two great maritime nations can collaborate on decarbonisation – asking what financing, technologies and incentives are required to meet the most important challenge of our time. It also set out practical recommendations to overcome barriers to increasing trade between the two countries. The US is already the UK’s largest sovereign trading partner, but there is scope to do much more together. And that will only help drive investment, growth and jobs across our country. Not least around ports in coastal communities that serve as the engine of our trading, maritime nation.”  

Launched during the Forum by Western Union, and published in Newsweek, another survey showed that American companies put the UK third behind only Canada and China in a ranking of predicted future trade over the next five years, during and after the country's departure from the European Union.