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9th May 2024

US still a land of opportunity for UK business

Supply chain security, trade deals, tariffs and planning permission were the big issues during the BCC’s five day mission to the US to promote business and investment.

Director General, Shevaun Haviland’s, trip was organised ahead of the US elections as issues around trade agreements, tariffs, supply-chain disruption, subsidies, protectionism and geopolitical tensions all gather momentum.

On her return to the UK, Shevaun said:

“Many of the issues for businesses in the US are very similar to the ones in the UK. The last three years have taught us that the assumptions that underpinned global trade for the first two decades of the 21st century cannot be relied upon.

“More attention is being paid to supply chain security following the disruption caused by the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and shifting geo-political tensions in the Middle East and China.

“This isn’t just about guaranteeing the supply of raw materials, but also small and large components and the intellectual property rights that underpin manufacturing.

“The UK and US are natural and historic trade partners, so it makes sense to work together on this, and avoid tariffs between us that make that more difficult.

“It was also interesting to hear that, whatever happens in November, many in the US do not think a free trade agreement with the UK will be priority. But that the agreements the UK has struck with individual states, like Texas and Florida, especially if they lead to mutual recognition of qualifications and sectoral deals, have potential.

“There is a focus on energy, tech, finance, healthcare, life sciences, security and defence which aligns well with many of the UK’s burgeoning and most successful businesses.

“But I was also intrigued to hear that many firms in the US are grappling with a planning system that is too slow and holding back development. They were keen to hear about the steps being taken by Government and business in the UK to address this.

“It is a key issue holding back domestic and foreign investment in both our economies.

“Overall, the trip was a successful fact-finding mission for the BCC. We engaged with key organisations, putting us in good stead, as our countries face general elections in the coming months.

“Both governments and business communities must continue to work in close partnership to make the most of our collective opportunities. We look forward to continuing that dialogue and engaging with businesses and politicians on all sides.”

Background to trip

Shevaun flew to Washington DC on Monday April 29 before travelling up to New York on Wednesday May 1, and returning to the UK on Friday May 3.

In Washington she met with the US Council for International Business, the US Chamber of Commerce, the Minister-Counsellor for Trade and Global Issues at the British Embassy, SelectUSA and the US Treasury.

In New York she spoke to His Majesty’s Deputy Trade Commissioner for North America and visited the United Nations.

She also spent time with the BCC’s US affiliate – British American Business, and supported a West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce trade reception at the British Consulate.

The West & North Yorkshire Chamber’s visit was celebrating the links between the historic cities of York and New York, and the global opportunities that exist for trade between the two.

Importance of US trade to the UK economy (source DBT)

  • UK exported £193.1bn of goods and services to US in 12 months up to September 2023.
  • UK imported £122bn of goods and services from US in 12 months up to September 2023
  • The US is the UK’s largest individual nation trading partner – accounting for 17.7% of all UK trade
  • US Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the UK – £675.7bn in 2021, 26.1% of total
  • UK FDI into US – £461.4bn in 2021, 33.7% of total
  • Exports – Goods £63bn, Services £130.1bn
  • Imports – Goods £62.9bn, Services £59.1bn

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