The United Kingdom and the United States have started negotiations on an “ambitious” post-Brexit free trade agreement.
Secretary of International Trade Liz Truss formally opened talks on Tuesday during a video conference with American commercial representative Robert Lighthizer.
The first round of discussions will begin on Wednesday and will continue for about two weeks.
There will be around 100 negotiators on each side.
Further rounds of interviews will be held every six weeks and conducted remotely until safe travel is possible again.
Negotiations will be conducted officially by the Department of International Trade, Oliver Griffiths and Daniel Mullaney, the United States assistant trade representative for Europe and the Middle East.
Supporters of Brexit they supported Britain’s ability to conclude its free trade agreements with nations around the world such as the United States will provide a boost to the economy.
But opponents have expressed concerns that concluding an agreement with Washington will mean that Britain will have to accept slower US food and environmental standards and will not compensate for the loss of access to the EU’s customs union and single market.
They also fear that it will open the National Health Service to American businesses, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied during last year’s election campaign.
Truss said a trade deal would help the economies of the United Kingdom and the United States “recover” following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want to make an ambitious deal that opens up new opportunities for our businesses, brings more investment and creates better jobs for people across the country,” he said.
“The prime minister has made it clear that we support free trade and this agreement will make it even easier to do business with our friends across the pond.
“As we sit down at the negotiating table, today we are confident that we will make a real bargain to secure an agreement for the benefit of individuals and companies in every region and nation of the United Kingdom.”
Lighthizer welcomed the start of the talks, which he said aimed to reach a “historic deal”.
“Under the leadership of President Trump, the United States will negotiate an ambitious and high-level trade agreement with the United Kingdom that will strengthen our economies, support well-paid jobs and substantially improve trade and investment opportunities between our two countries. “he said.