Small, and Medium-Sized Businesses in the North of England Join Consultation with UK Government on the Future UK-U.S. Free Trade Agreement

7 October 2020
Contact: Dominic Parker, Communications Manager | 020 7290 9882 | +44 7500 115352

Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) from across the North of England joined a BritishAmerican Business (BAB) virtual roundtable discussion with the UK Minister for Trade Policy, Greg Hands MP as part of a series of consultations carried out by the Department for International Trade (DIT) in partnership with BAB about the role that UK-U.S. trade and investment plays in local economies.

SMEs in the North of England provided feedback to Minister Hands on their transatlantic trade journey, including the opportunities they saw across the Atlantic, and the challenges they faced. Representatives from businesses including Paxman Coolers Ltd., The Floow, and Advanced Alloy discussed the barriers the currently face when exporting, importing, and investing in the U.S., where they see opportunities to grow their businesses in the U.S., and how a UK-U.S. Free Trade Agreement should work to their benefit.

Richard Paxman, CEO, Paxman Coolers Ltd. said:

“We are delighted to have participated in this consultation with BAB and the DIT to share our transatlantic journey with the Minister and fellow SMEs in the North of England.

“The U.S. is a hugely important market for us, and we have been able to double our UK workforce as a result of our transatlantic expansion. We have now established a physical presence in the U.S. which provides us with the capacity to serve customers and patients in all 50 states.

“We hope that a closer UK-U.S. trading relationship will allow more British businesses to take the same journey we did.”

3,903 businesses in the North East and North West export £10,000 of good to the United States every minute, or £5.2bn each year.* Indicative estimates show that a Free Trade Agreement with the United States could bring a £529m boost to the North of England each year in the long-run**, and lower tariffs on important industries for the North such as Automotive Manufacturing and Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing.

SMEs make up 99.9% of all businesses in the UK, contributing £2.2tr to the UK economy at the start of 2019. A UK-U.S. FTA can remove, lower or simplify trade barriers for the 31,600 SMEs that already export to the United States, and open up the market for SMEs with transatlantic ambitions.

Minister of State for Trade Policy, Greg Hands MP said:

“Last year businesses in the North East and North West of England collectively sold an impressive £5 billion worth of goods to the States. A trade deal with the US will open up even more transatlantic opportunities for businesses and could lead to levelling up through better jobs and high wages in the region. We want a deal that works for UK producers and consumers, one that lowers tariffs on key exports from the region like cars, and makes it easier for SMEs in the North of England to sell their goods to the US.

“I appreciate the effort businesses across the UK have made to join in our conversation on trade, and I am looking forward to the resulting report from BritishAmerican Business later this year.”

Emanuel Adam, Executive Director London, Director of Policy & Trade, BritishAmerican Business said:

“Today, we learned again that smaller businesses are faced with four sets of barriers: Tariffs; non-tariff barriers such as differences in regulatory frameworks; practical barriers such as opening a bank account or building a customer base, as well as political barriers such as the additional U.S. tariffs on British steel or whisky. A comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the UK and the U.S. will not address all of them directly, but it will be the vehicle and glue that links up all elements to help business fulfil their transatlantic ambitions.”

The consultation series has seen BAB and the DIT meet virtually with SMEs from across the United Kingdom throughout September and October.

A report summarising the input received from this consultation will be available afterwards.


* Latest figures from 2019. Source: Department for International Trade
** This is based on figures from the North-East and North-West of England. Source: Department for International Trade