Britain plans to cut tariffs on US agricultural imports: Financial Times

Corn is harvested from a field on Hodgen Farm in Roachdale, US on Oct 29, 2019.
Corn is harvested from a field on Hodgen Farm in Roachdale, US on Oct 29, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain is planning to cut tariffs on US agricultural imports to advance progress on a free trade agreement, the Financial Times reported on Thursday (May 14) .

The Department for International Trade was considering a"big concession package" to negotiators from the United States over the coming months to cut the cost of certain agricultural imports, the FT reported, citing government officials.

The package has been led by British trade minister Liz Truss, but is facing internal opposition from Environment Secretary George Eustice who has raised concerns that such a step could undercut British farmers, the report added.

Concerns about such tariff cuts have also been raised by officials at the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs, according to the report.

Last week, the US and Britain launched formal negotiations on a free trade agreement, vowing to work quickly to seal a deal that could counter the massive drag of the coronavirus pandemic on trade flows and the two allies' economies.

The talks, to be conducted virtually, will involve over 300 US and British staff and officials in nearly 30 negotiating groups.

Agriculture was expected to be among the thorniest issues in the talks, given strong British opposition to US genetically modified crops and antibacterial treatments for poultry.

Trade in goods between the US and Britain was valued at US$127.1 billion (S$181 billion) in 2018, with the two sides roughly in balance, while the services trade topped $134.8 billion.

Britain is the seventh-largest US goods trading partner, after South Korea, according to the US Census Bureau.