WASHINGTON, USA—The US and British leaders on Thursday announced a new economic partnership that will boost industry ties on defense and renewable energy in the face of growing competition from China.
On a White House visit, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak adopted an “Atlantic Declaration” with President Joe Biden, who has dashed UK hopes for a wider free trade agreement between post-Brexit Britain and the world’s largest economy.
“We face new challenges to international stability—from authoritarian states such as Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC); disruptive technologies; non-state actors; and transnational challenges like climate change,” the declaration says.
The document raises one key concern raised by US allies with Biden —his Inflation Reduction Act, which massively expands US commitment to green energy, hoping for the United States to take the lead over China, by promoting domestic industry.
Under the agreement with Sunak, the two countries will launch “immediate” negotiations on the US treatment of critical minerals that are used in electric batteries in Britain.
Biden also agreed to ask Congress to designate Britain as a domestic source for defense procurement, to speed up development of next-generation weapons such as hypersonic missiles.
“The UK and US have always pushed the boundaries of what two countries can achieve together,” Sunak said in a statement.
“So it’s natural that when faced with the greatest transformation in our economies since the industrial revolution, we would look to each other to build a stronger economic future together.”
The pact will aim to boost the interoperability of US and UK industry and also feed into
AUKUS — the new three-way defense alliance among the United States, Britain, and Australia that was launched as concerns rise about China’s rise.
The two leaders also called for joint efforts to prevent adversaries from using emerging technologies for harm including artificial intelligence, sixth-generation mobile networks and synthetic biology.
They renewed a call to keep Russia out of civilian nuclear power markets as European allies try to cut down on Russian fossil fuels following the invasion of Ukraine.
Supporters of Brexit in Sunak’s Conservative party had promised a free-trade agreement with the United States as they pushed for their divorce from the European Union, which was approved in a June 2016 referendum.
Asked if trade agreement hopes were dead, the prime minister’s spokesman said: “We think this [declaration] is the right approach for the US-UK partnership right now.”