Officials from Britain and the United States signed mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) covering pharmaceuticals and telecommunications equipment, electromagnetic compatibility for information and communications technology products.
Mutual recognition agreements are most often bilateral agreements between countries that recognize each other’s conformity assessments and meet the standards of specified goods and services in the signatory countries.
Deputy U.S. Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney and Ambassador Kim Darroch, the U.K.’s Ambassador to the United States signed the two MRAs, which cover trade amounting to £12.8 billion ($16.65 billion) on average trade flows on February 14, according to a British Department for International Trade statement.
Agreeing to these deals was a comparatively straight forward affair as the deals replicate similar MRAs previously agreed between the European Union (EU) and the U.S.
According to Britain’s International Trade Secretary Dr. Liam Fox, “This agreement will allow British and American businesses to keep trading as freely as they do today, without additional bureaucracy.”
Fox went on to say, “Our top priority is ensuring continuity for businesses as we leave the European Union and we are signing other agreements in the days and weeks ahead. We look forward to sitting down at the negotiating table with the Americans after we leave the European Union to strike an ambitious new free trade agreement.”
The MRAs were welcomed by British trade associations saying they would facilitate the continued free movement of goods following the country’s exit from the EU. However, securing the trade deal that Fox would like may prove a far more complex task, despite U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer having notified Congress last October of the Trump Administration’s intention to enter into trade negotiations with Britain after it has exited the EU.
Fox famously told voters before the 2016 EU referendum in Britain that concluding trade deals would be easy as Britain could replicate trade deals agreed to by the EU and other countries. In 2017 Fox said that 40 deals would be achieved by Brexit day (March 29, 2019). But the trade secretary had to admit last week that deals with Japan – one of the most important trade deals – and Turkey would not be completed by the time Britain withdraws from the EU.
So far, Britain has managed to roll-over only seven deals, of 69 possible, including Eastern and Southern Africa, Chile, the Faroe Islands, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Switzerland.