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UK plans to cut tariffs on U.S. agricultural imports: FT

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A North American rancher with his beef cattle,   REUTERS/Todd Korol

A North American rancher with his beef cattle, REUTERS/Todd Korol

REUTERS

A North American rancher with his beef cattle, REUTERS/Todd Korol

The United Kingdom is planning to cut tariffs on U.S. agricultural imports to advance progress on a free trade agreement, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

The Department for International Trade was considering a "big concession package" to negotiators from the United States over the coming months to cut the cost of certain agricultural imports, the FT reported, citing government officials.

The package has been led by UK trade minister Liz Truss, but is facing internal opposition from Environment Secretary George Eustice who has raised concerns that such a step could undercut UK farmers, the report added.

Concerns about such tariff cuts have also been raised by officials at the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, according to the report.

Last week, the United States and Britain launched formal negotiations on a free trade agreement, vowing to work quickly to seal a deal that could counter the massive drag of the coronavirus pandemic on trade flows and the two allies’ economies.

The talks, to be conducted virtually, will involve over 300 U.S. and UK staff and officials in nearly 30 negotiating groups.

Agriculture was expected to be among the thorniest issues in the talks, given strong British opposition to U.S. genetically modified crops and antibacterial treatments for poultry.

Trade in goods between the United States and United Kingdom was valued at $127.1 billion in 2018, with the two sides roughly in balance, while the services trade topped $134.8 billion. Britain is the seventh-largest U.S. goods trading partner, after South Korea, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Reuters