After a delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic, British and American negotiators have opened negotiations on a trade agreement that the U.K. government hopes will bring a post-Brexit economic and diplomatic boost.
U.K. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer held a video conference call Tuesday at the start of the two-week round of negotiations.
The two sides, which each have about 100 officials involved in the talks, said in a statement that a trans-Atlantic 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.”
Britain left the European Union on Jan. 31 after almost half a century of membership and now must forge a new trade relationship with the 27-nation bloc, and with other countries around the world.
Britain and the United States promised to work at “an accelerated pace” to strike a deal.
Total two-way trade between the two countries is already worth about $269 billion a year. The U.S. generally runs a trade surplus with the U.K., generating a nearly $19 billion surplus in 2018.