Economic boost as UK and North Carolina start to reap benefits of US state-level trade agreement

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Since leaving the European Union in January 2020, Britain has sought to define a new independent trade policy, keen to cast itself as defender of free trade and eager to drive manufacturing growth by promoting exports of premium ‘Made in Britain’ products.

The UK is currently working with about 20 US states to secure individual trade deals, with the first eight alone accounting for about 20% of the U.S. economy.

The first deal with entrepreneurial powerhouse Indiana is already offering UK firms significant opportunities in areas like renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.

The UK is the seventh largest export market for Indiana, and the state buys $1.4 billion worth of goods from the UK. The government say this agreement will act as a springboard to grow this even further.

The UK also has US state deals already signed with North Carolina and South Carolina. A government source says an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Utah is also very close to being signed this year.

Yesterday (Tuesday, January 24, 2023) the UK and State of North Carolina held the first government-to-government working group meeting under the UK-North Carolina Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on economic cooperation and trade relations, in Raleigh.

Colin Gray, Deputy Consul General for the United Kingdom in Atlanta, and Machelle Baker Sanders, Secretary of Commerce for the State of North Carolina, co-chaired the meeting, attended by officials from the respective governments.

The group acknowledged the early progress made across a range of economic and cultural areas since the MoU’s signature in July 2022. Activity to date has included:

  • Cooperation in sectors related to green trade, a key theme of the MOU, such as sharing expertise and methods for the development of offshore wind infrastructure;
  • The promotion of trade and investment opportunities to SMEs between North Carolina and the UK; and
  • The advancement of opportunities for women through new commercial partnerships, including within the sports economy.

The working group discussed and identified further opportunities to advance cooperation in the coming months. Key areas of joint working will include:

  • Continuing the emphasis on offshore wind through a focus on supply chain development;
  • Exchanging information on procurement processes, including opportunities related to electric vehicles charging, and associated infrastructure;
  • Exploring how innovation in motorsports can lead to developments in energy efficiency, and examining how these developments can apply to the wider automotive sector;
  • Exploring how UK companies can best support North Carolina’s EV ambitions of being at the front of the global market transition to zero-emission vans, buses and trucks; and
  • Furthering the collaboration between world leading academic institutions in the UK and North Carolina.

Both sides agreed to expand the next working group session to involve representatives from industry and academia to be held later this year in the UK.

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.

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