Aberdeen will play host to another round of talks aimed at boosting the UK’s £200 billion trade partnership with the United States.
During the second transatlantic dialog this week, the UK Government said talks will focus on “priority areas” including digital and innovation, green trade, supporting small and medium enterprises, and supply chain resilience.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the International Trade Secretary, said: “This dialogue gives us a platform to explore more modern, digital ways of trading.
Supply chain disruption and soaring inflation have reduced the operating margins of many small firms to almost nothing, so reducing the costs of trade with the US would be a huge boost for them.
“It will identify and resolve barriers to trade to make it cheaper and easier for businesses in Scotland and throughout the UK to do business with our US friends.”
With progress stalled on a UK-US free trade deal, the Government has switched its focus to making agreements with individual states in a bid to assist UK businesses.
Britain is expected to sign its first economic pacts with American states next month and secure an arrangement with Texas by October, trade minister Penny Mordaunt told the House of Commons on Thursday.
“The first eight we have in the pipeline will be equivalent to 20% of the United States economy,” she told MPs.
Ahead of the US-UK talks, which begin on Monday, the Department for International Trade said the discussions will pave the way for further engagement with the US, including ongoing work at a state-level and removing barriers to trade.
In Aberdeen, the International Trade Secretary will host her US counterpart Ambassador Katherine Tai, with leaders from Scottish and UK governments as well as trade unions and business set to attend.
On Sunday, the pair met with representatives from Scotland’s food and drink industry, including Walker’s shortbread and Clootie McToot, alongside leaders from US spirits company Brown-Forman which owns three of Scotland’s top distilleries, GlenDronach, Benriach and Glenglassaugh.
Shevaun Haviland, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, described the UK and US as “natural trading partners”.
“Smaller businesses make up the majority of our membership, and the UK economy, so it’s vital they are given a voice in these talks and that they get to reap the benefits of both sides of the Atlantic,” she said.
“Supply chain disruption and soaring inflation have reduced the operating margins of many small firms to almost nothing, so reducing the costs of trade with the US would be a huge boost for them.
“This would then help communities right across the UK to see the benefits that improved trade with the US could bring.”
According the the trade department US investment supported more than 100,000 jobs north of the border and generated nearly £50 billion for the Scottish economy.
Nearly a quarter of Scotland’s service exports are to the US, and according to EY the US is its number one foreign investor.
And Scotch whisky continued to play a vital role in US-UK trade, with almost two thirds of beverages exported to the United States coming from Scotland.
Allan Hogarth, executive director of the Scottish North American Business Council, said: “These discussions will cover vital areas to the Scottish, UK and US economies – it is a great opportunity to make sure Scottish voices are heard on this, our single biggest export market, and to try and make it simpler for us all to continue to prosper and strengthen the transatlantic relationship for our mutual benefit.”
Iain Stewart, UK Government minister for Scotland, said: “At a time when we face immense global challenges, joining with our friends in the US to lift barriers, improve communication and encourage new and innovative ways of working together will support jobs across Scotland and beyond, benefiting businesses of all sizes.”