Britain and the United States are to begin negotiations on an “ambitious” post-Brexit free trade agreement on Tuesday.
Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, and Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, will open the talks with a video conference call.
The first round of negotiations will then continue for around two weeks, with around 100 negotiators on each side taking part.
Further rounds will take place approximately every six weeks with talks being conducted remotely until it is safe to travel again.
At official level, the talks will be led by Oliver Griffiths at the Department for International Trade for the UK and Daniel Mullaney, the assistant US trade representative for Europe and the Middle East.
A chicken farm in Fairmont, North Carolina. The Government has denied that a trade deal will force Britain to accept looser food standards – RANDALL HILL/REUTERS
Boris Johnson has long argued that a free trade deal with the US is one of the great prizes to be gained from leaving the EU, providing a major boost to the economy. However, critics have warned that striking a deal will require Britain to accept looser US food and environmental standards as well as opening up the NHS to American firms – something the Government denies.
Ahead of the first session, Ms Truss said a deal would help both countries’ economies to “bounce back” after the coronavirus crisis.
“We want to strike an ambitious deal that opens up new opportunities for our businesses, brings in more investment and creates better jobs for people across the whole of the country,” she said.
“The Prime Minister has been clear that we champion free trade and this deal will make it even easier to do business with our friends across the pond.”
“As we sit down at the negotiating table today be assured that we will drive a hard bargain to secure a deal that benefits individuals and businesses in every region and nation of the UK.”