(qlmbusinessnews.com Mon. 1st July, 2024) London, UK —

Outrage as US-UK Trade Deals Jeopardised Following Britain’s Decision to Axe Negotiators

The business community has reacted with disbelief and anger after the UK government decided to cut a significant number of trade posts within its consulates in the US. This move, described by one British businessman as “an act of arson,” comes as nearly one-seventh of trade positions are eliminated.

Britain had initially viewed the US as a key partner post-Brexit, aiming for a comprehensive free trade deal. However, with those ambitions unrealised, recent efforts have focused on forging closer ties with individual US states. Now, the civil servants who were instrumental in negotiating these state-level agreements have been dismissed, just weeks before Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the general election.

A total of 24 trade positions, including 18 from the 139 posts within the trade department, have been cut. These teams, spread across nine consulates in the US, played a crucial role in signing trade agreements with states such as Florida, Indiana, and Oklahoma. More significantly, they built invaluable relationships with major American businesses, including tech giants and Hollywood executives.

Jules Ehrhardt, a designer and investor, expressed his dismay, stating there was “outrage and disbelief in the British business community.” He noted that the consulate directors were vital in connecting British and American business leaders, providing essential advice and expertise. “We’ve undermined Britain’s status as a ‘gateway to Europe’ for American companies following Brexit, and now we’ve effectively lobotomised ourselves,” he lamented.

Disbelief as UK Reduces Trade Posts in US Amidst Critical Negotiations

Allan Rooney, founder of Rooney Law, emphasised the critical role these directors played in fostering UK-US trade relationships. “They facilitate strategic introductions and help companies navigate the complex US market,” he said. Removing these positions, he warned, could severely impact trade relations, especially given the substantial number of Britons employed by American businesses.

William Bain, head of trade policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, echoed these concerns, highlighting the importance of expanding, not reducing, support for UK companies in the US. He pointed out that cuts to these teams could hinder economic growth and strain already limited resources.

Efforts to secure a comprehensive trade deal with the US have been challenging. Although Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak made strides, including Sunak's “Atlantic declaration” with President Biden last June, significant barriers remain. State-level deals have made some progress in recognising British professional qualifications and easing regulatory hurdles.

A UK government spokesperson defended the decision, stating that the trade and investment teams in America remain focused on promoting UK interests, driving investment, and enhancing the trading relationship with the US. The spokesperson added that the government continually reviews its structures to ensure maximum impact and value for taxpayers.

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