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The Future of the Special Relationship

On Monday 18th December, Legatum Institute hosted its final event of the year: The Future of US-UK Trade: Bringing Down Barriers, Building the Special Relationship with Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP.

The event was led by Fred de Fossard, head of the British Prosperity Unit, and he welcomed speeches from former SecretarThe event was led by Fred de Fossard, head of the British Prosperity Unit, and he welcomed speeches from former Secretary of State for International trade, the Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP; trade and competition expert Shanker Singham; Legatum Institute’s newest recruit, Sarah Elliott, who runs the Special Relationship Unit; and Americans for Tax Reform’s Philip Thompson and Andreas Hellmann.

Following his article in the Daily Express about the importance of the Special Relationship, Dr Fox spoke about the concentric circles that make up US-UK relations, with defence and security at their heart, followed by foreign direct investment, and trade in goods and services towards the periphery. Our panellists developed this theme, highlighting the ways in which US-UK ties can be strengthened even without a formal free trade agreement between the two countries, or relying on specific political parties to be in office at certain times. Legatum Institute’s Sarah Elliott, the head of the new Special Relationship Unit, spoke about the way in which the special relationship endures beneath any political disputes between governments, and plans to put the Institute at the heart of political, intellectual and cultural relations between Britain and America in the new year.

Philip Thompson and Andreas Hellmann from Americans for Tax Reform presented the latest edition of the Global Trade Barriers Index, and placed a particular emphasis on digital trade barriers between the UK and the USA. They offered a stark warning to the UK: it has an opportunity to break away from the European Union’s risk-averse approach to regulation, which stifles economic growth and innovation, but instead it seems to be copying the EU with its own duplicate regulations. As Shanker Singham observed, regulatory openness and a competitive economy are the best methods of increasing US-UK trade and investment without a trade deal, and would be an immense benefit to British consumers and businesses alike. How we get there will be of the most important tasks for the Institute in 2024.