Daily Mail

Kemi hails Brexit as she signs trade deal with Florida

- By Claire Ellicott Whitehall Editor

KEMI Badenoch credited Brexit for enabling her to sign a major trade deal with Florida last night.

The Business and Trade Secretary agreed the memorandum of understand­ing with the third most populous US state, which has an economy larger than Spain.

She also said progress was being made on a wider US trade deal, saying the aim was to ‘conclude very quickly’.

Hailing the deal with the sunshine state’s Republican governor – and presidenti­al hopeful – Ron DeSantis, she told a press conference in Jacksonvil­le: ‘The UK’s decision to gain independen­ce from the EU and take back control of our trading policy is something that I know resonated with a lot of Americans.

‘And it’s that freedom that underpins for me the deal which we are signing today.’

Mrs Badenoch said Florida had an economic output of more than £1.1trillion, which was more than most European countries.

The agreement is targeted at sectors including space,

financial tech, AI and legal services where the UK and Florida are leaders. It is also designed to boost exports and investment.

On the potential wider US trade deal, the Business Secretary told Reuters: ‘We have a target to conclude very quickly. The last bits are often the trickiest bits. But it’s going well.’

She said she had had ‘very, very good conversati­ons’ with US trade representa­tive Katherine Tai at a recent G7 meeting on the broader deal, and ‘quite a lot’ of issues had been agreed.

In June, Rishi Sunak and US President Joe Biden

announced the Atlantic Declaratio­n – deepening economic, technologi­cal and commercial ties and expanding trade.

However, the Free Trade Agreement Britain had hoped for under previous President Donald Trump is unlikely after Mr Biden froze talks after taking office in 2021.

Mr DeSantis met Mrs Badenoch during an April visit to London shortly before he announced his presidenti­al bid for next year.

Trade between Britain and Florida is already worth more than £5billion a year.

Mr DeSantis said UK companies account for more than 70,000 jobs there, making Britain the top foreign investor.

Similar pacts have been signed with six other states – Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington – with combined economies of £3.3trillion, just less than German GDP.

And negotiatio­ns are continuing with others including Texas, California, Colorado, and Illinois.

‘Florida is a major economy in its own right, with a bigger GDP than most European countries,’ Mrs Badenoch said. ‘Florida’s leading hightech companies offer huge opportunit­ies to the UK’s rapidly expanding tech sector.’ The agreement is the first the

‘Economy larger than Spain’

UK has signed which focuses on the space sector. Florida is home to the Nasa Kennedy Space Center.

The growing space industry at home is worth more than £ 17.5billion and employs nearly 50,000.

Mrs Badenoch said the Florida deal would help ‘unlock new possibilit­ies for businesses in other industries of the future, whether it’s transporta­tion, AI or semi-conductors.’

She added: ‘I have no doubt that this MOU is going to ignite some of the ideas and collaborat­ions that will help shape the world to come.’

Asked about the appointmen­t of former Remainer David Cameron as Foreign Secretary, Mrs Badenoch said: ‘We’re all Brexiteers now.’

 ?? ?? Agreement: Ron DeSantis and Kemi Badenoch last night
Agreement: Ron DeSantis and Kemi Badenoch last night

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