M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 136

Will Prioritising A UK-US Free Trade Agreement Make Or Break Global Britain? Transatlantic Trade and Economic Cooperation through the Pandemic 

Ed Balls
Nyasha Weinberg
Jessica Redmond
Simon Borumand

May 2020


Talks on a future Free Trade Agreement (“FTA”) between the United Kingdom and United States began on May 5 2020. This paper, the fifth in a series looking at the impacts of Brexit on the UK economy and trade, examines whether talks might result in an FTA between the US and UK, and what the impact of such a deal could be. Based on interviews with senior government officials, trade and sector experts on both sides of the Atlantic – before and during the Covid-19 Pandemic - we explore the prospects of a deal and what shape that might take. We conclude that a full FTA with the US before the summer of 2020 is impossible given the impacts of Covid-19 and roadblocks and risks involved. A ‘mini-deal’, however, is a possibility. Yet such a ‘mini-deal’ poses an important strategic dilemma for the government: will it draw the UK into an emerging US foreign and economic policy based on anti-China bilateralism, closing the door on ‘Global Britain’; or can the UK use this opportunity to help encourage the US back into the global community?

Download the paper in PDF format

View the 12 May 2020 webinar during which the paper was presented followed by a panel discussion with:

  • Ed Balls, Research Fellow Harvard Kennedy School and Visiting Professor at King's College London, former Shadow Chancellor and Chief Economic Adviser
  • Dr Meredith Crowley, Reader in International Economics at Cambridge University
  • Lord Nick Macpherson, Chair of Hoare’s Bank, Visiting Professor King’s College, London and former Permanent Secretary to the Treasury
  • George Osborne, Editor of the Evening Standard and former Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Shanker Singham, CEO Competere, Academic Fellow IEA, and former advisor to both USTR and the UK Trade Secretary