LONDON — Trade negotiations between the U.K. and the U.S. look like David versus Goliath.
The world’s biggest economic power, which has taken a pugnacious “America First” stance on global trade under U.S. President Donald Trump, has a veteran steering its side of the talks: Robert Lighthizer.
The U.K., with an economy less than one-eighth the size of America’s, has Liz Truss, a relative neophyte almost 30 years younger than her U.S. counterpart.
Both Britain (in its post-Brexit incarnation) and Truss are newbies on the trade scene. Truss, 44, was named international trade secretary, in charge of all of Britain’s non-EU trade, last summer, and the U.K. itself is fresh back to the negotiating table after having its trade directed through Brussels for 40 years.
Truss said on Monday that she was looking to secure a deal with Washington at an “accelerated” pace, as more trade is “essential” to help the U.K. economy recover from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The first round of negotiations ended on Friday; the second is scheduled for June.
“I’m absolutely clear that Liz is tough enough to stand up for the U.K. in these negotiations” — pro-Brexit Conservative MP Steve Baker
But there is more at stake than just U.K.-U.S. trade relations.
If Truss concedes too much in the U.S. negotiations, it could have repercussions in the ongoing talks for a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU, which her department is not in charge of. This became clear after a kerfuffle last week over a potential British offer on agriculture to Washington. If Britain gives too much away to the Americans either in terms of tariffs or standards,