Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox has confirmed that free trade talks between the UK and the US will initiate on July 24, where the groundworks will be set for a deal to be signed after Britain leaves the EU in 2019.
While on a BBC Question time panel on Thursday, Mr Fox said that “there are some very, very big markets that we will be able to take advantage of”, adding: “And I’ve got news for you, that we are beginning our actual discussions on July 24.”
The talks will be seen as a major test of Britain’s ability to strike its own free trade deals with countries around the world. Having the ability, post-Brexit, to make such deals was touted by the Vote Leave campaign in which Liam Fox played a major role.
Currently the European Union negotiates and signs trade deals on Britain’s behalf, as it is a member of the customs union. But with Britain’s departure, Liam Fox’s new government department will have the role of negotiating such deals with major economies such as China and India.
A trade deal with the United States cannot be signed until Britain officially leaves the customs union in 2019, or possibly at a later date if there’s a transitional agreement, but formal talks in preparation can be held.
Liam Fox recently paid a visit to his counterpart in the United States, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, where Ross said that “from the US side, we’ve made it clear that we are prepared to begin as soon as the UK is ready.”