On May 5, 2020, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced the formal launch of trade agreement negotiations between the US and the UK. The announcement said:
In light of the ongoing global pandemic caused by Covid-19, the first round of negotiations will be conducted virtually, with UK and US negotiators engaging in discussions over the next two weeks in nearly 30 different negotiating groups covering all aspects of a comprehensive trade agreement.
Both parties agree that a Free Trade Agreement would contribute to the long-term health of our economies, which is vitally important as we recover from the challenges posed by Covid-19.
An FTA is a priority for both countries and we share a commitment to secure an ambitious agreement that significantly boosts trade and investment. We will undertake negotiations at an accelerated pace and have committed the resources necessary to progress at a fast pace.
An opening plenary on May 5 will kick off the detailed discussions, followed by multiple virtual meetings from May 6 to May 15. The negotiations build on the work conducted through the US-UK Trade and Investment Working Group, which was established in July 2017, partly to lay the ground work for these negotiations.
The United States and the United Kingdom are the first and fifth largest economies in the world, respectively. Total two-way trade between the two countries is already worth about $269 [£230] billion a year. Each country is the other’s largest source of foreign direct investment, with about $1 trillion [over £700 billion] invested in each other’s economies. Every day, around one million Americans go to work for UK firms, while around one million Britons go to work for American firms.
The U.S.-UK trade agreement will be a modern agreement designed for the highly advanced and sophisticated U.S. and UK economies. Both governments are committed to maintaining high levels of health, safety, and environmental protection that will serve as a model free trade agreement for the world.