East of England could see £345m boost via US trade deal, says MP
PUBLISHED: 15:05 12 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:05 12 May 2020
The East of England could be set to benefit by £345m from a free trade deal with the United States, according to the minister in charge of negotiations.
Elizabeth Truss, secretary of state for international trade, relaunched remote talks with the US trade representative Robert Lighthizer last week in the hopes of agreeing an “ambitious” plan for the two nations to “bounce back” after the coronavirus crisis.
And the South West Norfolk MP has told the House of Commons that the Eastern region was set to benefit from such a deal by £345m.
Ms Truss took questions from MPs during a parliamentary session on the new talks this morning (Tuesday, May 12).
And after being asked by North West Norfolk MP James Wild whether the talks represented a “great opportunity” for the region’s firms and food producers, she shared the £345m prediction.
Conservative MP Mr Wild said: “I warmly welcome the ambitious agenda that my right honourable friend has set out.
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“Could she confirm to me and to the House that any trade deal with the United States will not lower our standards on imported food and that these talks represent a great opportunity for world-leading companies in West Norfolk and other pharmaceutical, engineering and manufacturing firms to benefit from reduced tariffs and other barriers to trade?”
And Conservative MP Ms Truss responded: “I can confirm that we will not lower our food import standards as a result of the US deal. We are going to maintain those standards which are an important part of the quality assurance we have here in the United Kingdom and he will be aware there are lots of opportunities for Norfolk farmers, and Norfolk producers, from a US trade deal.
“Overall the East of England stands to benefit by £345m.”
It came as Ms Truss was quizzed by the Liberal Democrat MP for St Albans, Daisy Cooper, over the government’s engagement with small businesses over the terms of any US free trade deal.
She asked: “Will the government create a mechanism for SMEs to help shape the deal?”
Ms Truss said the government was committed to working with businesses of all sizes throughout the process and had worked with the Federation of Small Businesses. She added: “I’m very happy to engage about how more SMEs can be involved.”
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