Britain and the United states are hopeful that negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement can proceed at an "accelerated pace", said UK Secretary of State for International trade Liz Truss after the first round of talks ended last week. The minister described recent negotiations, which were held via teleconferencing, as positive and constructive and noted that a number of areas "showed particular progress" without elaborating.
Truss said she and her US counterpart Robert Lighthizer agreed that a second round of talks would take place in the middle of June. She noted that negotiating teams of both countries would continue working "virtually on a rolling basis" this week and beyond.
The development comes after the Sunday Express reported citing a White House source that the UK’s cooperation with China is now the main issue in negotiations with Washington expecting Britain to drop key projects, including an agreement with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei on developing a 5G network.
"I think the interconnectivity between our two nations will only get increasingly stronger. The American people want that and expect that. Together we are fighting a shared invisible foe – the [corona]virus – and building a united front to mitigate the clear and present global danger – China", the source said, adding that special relationship with its historic ally may become strained if Prime Minister Johnson "blinks". "He [Donald Trump] will work with those who will work with him and will not soften his stance for anyone – including the UK", the source said.
Besides Britain’s cooperation with China, which angers the White House, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing domestic opposition from farmers and health experts, who said that striking a deal with the United States will require Britain to accept lower food and environment standards, including genetically modified crops, chemically-rinsed chicken and hormone-treated beef. Although the UK Department For International Trade previously claimed that authorities won’t compromise on high food environmental protection and food standards, it didn’t rule out allowing imports of genetically modified foods.