Exclusive: UK eyes adding climate provisions in US trade talks to woo Joe Biden


Stefan Boscia, City A.M. (UK)

13 January 2021


The UK will try to add new provisions on climate change and environmental standards in US trade negotiations in a bid to woo incoming President Joe Biden.


Trade secretary Liz Truss wants to build on current negotiations with the Donald Trump administration and potentially add things like enhanced protections on air pollution and corporate transparency on climate change to coax Biden’s team to the negotiating table.


Trade negotiations are in “advanced stages”, more than 50 per cent of the deal is believed to be completed, with the trade secretary previously declaring her aim was to get a deal done by June.


Boris Johnson has emphasised his government’s green credentials, and role as host of the Cop 26 United Nations Climate Change Conference this year, in early talks with Biden to try and forge a strong relationship with the President-elect.


Alok Sharma reportedly left his job as business secretary last week to focus solely on running Cop 26, after Biden’s team told Johnson that more needed to be done to prepare for the landmark conference.


Any bid to beef up environmental protections in UK-US trade talks will be seen as an extension of this effort to get close to Biden.


A senior International Trade Department source said “it’s no secret that we need to tick key political boxes to get a deal over the line with Biden” and that “the environment and climate change definitely will tick those boxes”.


Biden appointed Katherine Tai as his new US Trade Representative last month, but it will take at least a couple of months for her to get confirmed by the US Senate.


Truss and other trade minsters have not yet had any contact with Tai, but are hoping to travel to the US to meet her shortly after she is confirmed by the Senate.


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