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Remarks by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the International Advisory Board Meeting of the British American Business


Good afternoon! It’s great to be here with all of you.

Thank you, President Marrs, for that kind introduction and thank you to British American Business for inviting me to speak today.

Following the trade dip during the 2020 lockdown, I’m proud to say that trade between the United States and the UK has rebounded strongly.

Just look at the data.

Today the United States is the UK’s single largest trading partner, and we have over $1.4 trillion invested in each other’s economies.

As of 2020, the UK was the 4th largest investor in the U.S., supporting over 1.2 million American jobs.

And in the first seven months of this year, bilateral trade increased 8.5% to $67.3 billion!

British  American Business has been a critical voice for trade − from advocating for a U.S.-UK Free Trade Agreement to supporting SMEs through programs like Champions of Trade. 

At Commerce, we share your commitment to supporting SMEs.

As you know, last May, the United States began Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the United Kingdom – and you were a tremendous ally to our Department during those negotiations.

While the negotiations are currently on hold, they set the stage for deeper cooperation on trade and investment in the future.

During the height of COVID lockdowns, that cooperation really shined when the U.S. Embassy London partnered with British American Business on the “Standing United” initiative.

The initiative showed the world what important work transatlantic companies were doing to keep communities safe, and to keep economies moving, during the pandemic.

Many British American Business members donated Personal Protective Equipment, built critical ventilators, and volunteered in your communities.

And our shared values extend beyond COVID to other global crisis, too – like climate change.

Our Commercial Service UK team hosted some of you in September to discuss how Transatlantic companies can support sustainability efforts alongside the U.S. and UK governments.

Addressing climate change is a top priority for the Biden Administration and central to our trade agenda.

Almost immediately after assuming office, President Biden signed an executive order rejoining the Paris Climate Accords.  

In April, he reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.  

And at Commerce we’re bringing policymakers and private sector stakeholders together to discuss sustainability in the lead up to Britain hosting the COP26 Climate Change Conference.

In addition to climate, the U.K. is a critical partner for our Administration’s digital agenda.

We firmly believe that innovation and trade will flourish when we have safe and secure data flows across the Atlantic.

The U.K.’s announcement that the U.S. is a priority partner for negotiating a decision on the free, safe flow of data is a testament is a testament to our shared understanding of the possibilities that lie ahead – especially with science and technology.

In June, the U.S. and the UK agreed to a science and technology partnership under the renewed Atlantic Charter.

It deepens our cooperation on a range of issues in which the Commerce Department has significant equities.

For example, our Department’s National Telecommunication and Information Administration is leading the charge to promote vendor diversity in the rollout of 5G networks.

And our National Institute of Standards and Technology is coordinating government activity on AI standards for healthcare and other critical sectors.

We have the opportunity now to set the rules of the road on critical and emerging technologies for decades to come − according to our shared democratic values.

That’s why its critical that we work on these issues together and make clear to the world that democracies can deliver for our people, our businesses, and our economies.

We can’t afford not to.

We’re facing major threats to global supply chains. And the last thing we want is to be dependent on countries who don’t share our values for critical supplies.

Gender, racial, and ethnic inequalities are still holding all of our economies back from reaching our full potential.

We need to tackle those issues head on so no one is left behind.

Because only when everyone can fully participate, can our economies fully recover.

I’m looking forward to working together with all of you at British American Business, and building upon the rich history of our U.S.-UK partnership, to address today’s most pressing challenges. 

You always have a partner in Washington and at the Department of Commerce.

With that, I’ll turn it back over to President Marrs for a couple of questions.