Robert Lightheiser, the U.S. trade representative to Donald Trump’s outgoing administration, said he hoped the UK and US would reach an agreement on reducing trade tariffs.
In an interview with the BBC, Lightheiser said it was in talks with the UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss, which could remove the hefty US tariffs on products, including Scotch whiskey.
“I hope we can get some kind of deal you know, we don’t have a lot of time,” Lightheiser said.
His comments come just days after the UK dropped EU tariffs on aircraft manufacturer Boeing in hopes of securing a Brexit trade deal with Washington.
The United States and the European Union have been locked in a long-running trade dispute over subsidies to Airbus, Boeing’s bitter European rival and American aircraft maker.
Following the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that the United States has provided illegal government assistance to Boeing, the European Union will retaliate with $ 4 billion ($ 3 billion) in US imports.
The World Trade Organization has previously ruled that EU governments, including the United Kingdom, France and Germany, have provided illegal government assistance to Airbus. As a result, the United States imposed a 25% charge on UK products such as Scotch whiskey and wool jumpers.
However, the US Trade Representative said the UK decision to drop tariffs on Boeing was not far off and would not be considered a concession, as Britain would not have the right to impose retaliatory tariffs on the United States after leaving the EU.
Negotiations surrounding the UK-US trade agreement are broader than the provision of space or subsidies.
Despite the UK government announcing in November that it would not allow US chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef on UK supermarket shelves, the US has long aimed for better access to UK agriculture.
It was seen as rejecting a U.S. request to lower animal welfare standards as part of a trade agreement.
“The United States needs to gain more access to the agricultural market in the UK – that’s an important part; every side needs to get something out of it,” Lightheiser said.
He added, “These are complex technical issues. I think they will work in the final stages of negotiations. ”
Despite various potential obstacles, Lightheiser “could be deployed in the next two or three weeks or here or here …” he believed.
With more than a month to go before the administration of President-elect Joe Biden takes office, the time has come for Donald Trump’s team to strike a deal with the UK.
Once the issues are resolved, “there is no reason why the United States and the United Kingdom should not reach an agreement so quickly,” Lightheiser said.