The UK will soon sign its third pact with a US state after leaving the European Union.

Total trade in goods and services between the UK and US has risen by nearly 15% in the last year.

UK Trade minister Greg Hands will sign the memorandum of understanding aimed at boosting trade and investment with South Carolina, according to a UK government statement on Wednesday.

The Trade Minister is currently undertaking a multi-state tour of the US to boost trade and investment ties with individual states.

Starting in Columbia, South Carolina, he is covering three states in four days: South Carolina, California and Utah. The tour includes the largest US state economy, which covers around 15% of US GDP and therefore represents enormous opportunities for UK businesses.

He will meet with senior representatives from both political parties, including state governors, to explore opportunities for enhanced trade.

In Columbia, South Carolina, he will sign the UK’s third trade Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a US state, following the signatures of Indiana and North Carolina earlier in the year. In Utah, he will continue discussions on an MoU with a view to signing early next year.

Minister of State for Trade Policy Greg Hands said:

These MoUs with US states can cover areas vital to the UK, from tech and renewable energy to financial and professional services.

We’re engaging with the US at every level – federal, state and local – to increase opportunities for UK businesses.

Whether it’s successfully securing an expansive removal of Section 232 tariffs on imports of UK steel and aluminium into the US, signing MoUs with individual states or seeking recognition of professional qualifications, the UK is focused on delivering for British businesses and consumers.

The MoU will bolster the UK’s trading partnership with South Carolina, which bought £1.4 billion of goods from the UK last year.

By addressing state-specific trade barriers, promoting trade missions to South Carolina and sharing expertise and best practice, it will seek to unlock opportunities for UK firms to expand overseas and attract investment.

The MoU will focus on key sectors which reflect shared areas of expertise such as automotive – including electric vehicles – and life sciences. This could benefit British firms exporting to South Carolina such as specialist manufacturer Sigmatex.

It will support the Government’s levelling up agenda, for instance boosting export opportunities for the West Midlands’ £5bn automotive industry or Scotland’s thriving life sciences sector.

The MoU aims to create stronger commercial and academic links in these sectors, which could boost jobs and wages in the UK, adding to the already more than 130,000 life sciences jobs outside London and the South East.

Paul McMullan, CEO Sigmatex said:

As a UK company, we chose South Carolina as our preferred base in North America due to the many benefits offered by the State, including a strong labour pool, a fast-growing industrial sector and a business-friendly regulatory environment.

The news of South Carolina and the UK agreeing an MoU on trade and economic development is very welcome indeed, and sure to bring further benefits to companies like Sigmatex who wish to have operations in the USA and specifically the State of SC.

The US is the UK’s largest trading partner. The Minister will highlight the importance of our £230 billion trade partnership for fuelling economic growth and job creation on both sides of the Atlantic.

The trip forms part of the UK’s twin-track approach to trade with the US, strengthening links with individual states in parallel with our work with the federal government. Other states being engaged include Texas, Oklahoma, Washington and Oregon.

Source: Department for International Trade and The Rt Hon Greg Hands MP


  1. To quote His Britannic Majesty’s Government web site concerning MOUs

    “A MOU is not a legally binding document”

    and specifically for the MOU with South Carolina, it states in no uncertain terms

    “This MOU is not legally binding under state, national or international law.”

    Since the UK government has shewn its intent to break legally binding agreements in a limited and specific manner, is an MOU worth more than the paper upon which it is written?


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