In a significant move to bolster trade and investment ties, British Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch signed a memorandum of understanding with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. This collaborative effort aims to enhance business relations between the United Kingdom and Florida, the fourth largest U.S. state. Badenoch expressed optimism about ongoing negotiations with the U.S. federal government regarding a more comprehensive trade agreement.
During a telephone interview with Reuters, Badenoch highlighted the positive outcomes of her discussions with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai at a recent Group of Seven (G7) meeting. She revealed that substantial progress had been made on various fronts, underscoring the commitment to swiftly conclude negotiations. "The last bits are often the trickiest bits," she acknowledged, "but it's going well."
The Atlantic Declaration, unveiled by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and U.S. President Joe Biden in June, serves as a blueprint for deepening economic, technological, and commercial cooperation. This initiative aims to elevate trade from its current level of £310 billion ($380 billion).
While a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) had been hoped for during the Trump presidency, President Biden put such talks on hold upon taking office in 2021. Nonetheless, the trade pact between Britain and Florida is a significant step forward, designed to streamline and expedite business operations between the two entities. This agreement focuses on key sectors such as space, financial technology, artificial intelligence, legal services, supply chains, and logistics.
Governor DeSantis and Secretary Badenoch previously met in London during an April visit, part of an international tour leading up to DeSantis's bid for the Republican nomination in the November 2024 presidential election. Trump remains a formidable contender in the race, according to polls.
Trade between the UK and Florida already exceeds £5 billion ($6.14 billion) annually, with UK companies contributing to over 70,000 jobs in the state. The UK stands as the top foreign investor in Florida, with total investments estimated at $18 billion.
This latest trade pact joins similar agreements between Britain and six other U.S. states, with ongoing negotiations with several others in progress. "Florida is a major economy in its own right, with a bigger GDP than most European countries," Badenoch emphasized. "From launching satellites to developing cutting-edge fintech software, Florida's leading high-tech companies offer substantial opportunities to the UK's rapidly expanding tech sector.