Ministers have abandoned the prospect of reaching a trade agreement with the United States before the upcoming election, following signals from the Biden administration indicating a lack of interest in such an agreement. British officials had initially aimed for a “foundational trade partnership” before both countries go to the polls in the next year, opting not to pursue a comprehensive free trade agreement.
Sources with knowledge of the talks reveal that they are no longer ongoing due to the reluctance of senior Democrats to open U.S. markets to additional foreign-made goods. A British government spokesperson, while emphasizing expanding cooperation on economic and trade issues, acknowledged that the foundational trade partnership is no longer under consideration.
Proponents of the Leave campaign had touted the freedom to engage in bilateral trade agreements as one of Brexit’s significant benefits, with a U.S. trade deal often seen as a major prize. However, talks on a comprehensive free trade agreement stalled early on, encountering resistance from Democratic members of Congress and concerns in the UK about potential imports of chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef.
Earlier this year, documents revealed a potential alternative—coordination between Washington and London covering digital trade, labor protections, and agriculture. This proposed deal, falling short of a full-fledged free trade agreement, lacked lower barriers for service companies but could have paved the way for one in the future.
Sources indicate that finalizing this alternative deal was challenging, partly because the U.S. sought greater access for its agricultural products. Additionally, recent weeks clarified that the Biden administration had no inclination to sign any form of deal before the election, considering how Donald Trump had leveraged international trade agreements during his initial presidential campaign.
A spokesperson for Ron Wyden, the Democratic chair of the Senate finance committee, emphasized the view that announcements should only be made when a deal benefiting Americans is achievable, reflecting the cautious approach of the U.S. administration in the current political climate.