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U.S. Trade Representative Tai to hold talks in Britain next week

By Reuters

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON – U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will travel to Britain on Wednesday and hold talks with British trade minister Elizabeth Truss after participating in a U.S.-European Union summit and holding several bilateral meetings, her office said.

Tai first disclosed her trip to Brussels – her first overseas trip – during a town hall hosted by the AFL-CIO trade federation on Thursday, but the UK stop was previously not known.

The U.S. trade czar’s office released details late on Friday, saying Tai would arrive in Brussels on Sunday for the U.S.–EU summit and bilateral meetings with counterparts, including EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis.

“The summit will underscore our commitment to a strong Transatlantic partnership based on shared interests and values,” USTR said in a statement. It will focus on the global economy, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, digital and trade cooperation and other foreign policy concerns, USTR said.

On Wednesday, Tai will travel to London and hold bilateral meetings with British trade secretary Elizabeth Truss before returning to the United States, USTR said.

U.S. allies have been anxious to start talks with Tai after years of tariffs and tensions during the Trump administration. The White House has said it will put new trade deals on hold until it has reviewed Trump’s trade policies.

Britain and the United States had started talks on a bilateral free trade deal under Trump, but failed to reach an accord before Biden took office.

Prospects for reaching a U.S.-UK deal are slim ahead of the expiration of congressional “trade promotion authority” this summer, sources said.

UK ambassador Karen Pierce told Reuters that U.S. officials were supportive of a free trade deal with Britain, but the timing was unclear given other U.S. domestic priorities.

Britain is working with the European Union to resolve a nearly 17-year-old trade dispute over aircraft subsidies before July 11, when currently suspended tariffs will go back into effect.