Sunak and Biden promise action on AI, data sharing, defence and green subsidies
Image credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The US and the UK have announced the Atlantic Declaration, a partnership that could mitigate the impact of Biden's Inflation Reduction Act on British firms.
The agreement is far from a trade deal. Instead, the US President and the United Kingdom's Prime Minister have focused on a series of targeted pledges covering artificial intelligence, critical minerals, clean energy and security concerns.
Sunak described the agreement as a “new economic partnership for a new age". When asked whether the Declaration was an "acknowledgement of the failure" to strike a broader trade deal, he said it "responds to particular challenges and opportunities we face right now".
The Atlantic Declaration could be seen as an effort to lessen the impact of the US' Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes tax credits worth $3,750 (£3,000) for each EV manufactured in the US, or that uses components mined, processed or manufactured in the country.
The text of the agreement includes a commitment from both nations to work towards a deal that would allow critical minerals for electric vehicles mined in the UK – cobalt, graphite, lithium, manganese, and nickel – to be eligible for tax credits under the new US legislation - mirroring the minerals deal made with Japan.
If achieved, this agreement could help companies all over the UK, including firms carrying out nickel production in Wales and lithium processing in Teesside.
In the Declaration, Biden and Sunak pledged to draft a Joint Clean Energy Supply Chain Action Plan by the end of 2023. The plan will establish actions the two countries can take in the short term to meet clean energy targets.
It also includes the launch of a civil nuclear partnership overseen by senior officials in both governments, that will "encourage the establishment of new infrastructure and end-to-end fuel cycle capabilities by 2030", including "the safe, secure, and sustainable international deployment of advanced, peaceful nuclear technologies", such as small modular reactors or even space nuclear power plants.
The two nations also agreed to collaborate on "critical and emerging technologies", promising to draft a roadmap that could include artificial intelligence, 5G and 6G telecoms, quantum computing, semiconductors and engineering biology, within a year.
In addition, the discussions covered increasing research and student mobility, as well as a push for mutual recognition of qualifications for engineers, although this could be subject to state-by-state approval in the US.
The document also included Biden's promise to ask Congress to label Britain as a “domestic source” within the US Defense Production Act, giving suppliers in the country more favourable terms. The US President also promised to propose a modernisation of export control laws to "enhance collaboration between and among AUKUS nations".
“Technology, economics, and national security are more deeply intertwined than ever before," the Declaration says.“We face new challenges to international stability – from authoritarian states such as Russia and the People’s Republic of China; disruptive technologies; non-state actors; and transnational challenges like climate change.”
The declaration also includes a commitment to a create "new UK-US Data Bridge", that would allow UK firms to transfer data freely to certified US organisations without paying a levy – allowing 55,000 UK businesses to save £92.4m per year.
In addition, the two countries pledged a collaboration on privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) to ensure AI models are trained responsibly, "protecting individuals’ privacy and democratic principles".
Biden also welcomed the Prime Minister’s plans to launch the first global summit on AI safety, announced earlier this week, and confirmed the US' attendance.
"The UK and US have always pushed the boundaries of what two countries can achieve together," Sunak said. "So it is 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 Atlantic Declaration sets a new standard for economic cooperation, propelling our economies into the future so we can protect our people, create jobs and grow our economies together."
Biden added: “It’s a testament to the depth, breadth and I would argue the intensity of our cooperation and coordination which continues to exist between the United Kingdom and the United States.
“There’s no issue of global importance – none – that our nations are not leading together.”
In response to the news, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said: “Labour has consistently called on the Government to secure closer economic ties with the United States to work together on the critical issues of our time: from facing the challenges posed by China, to artificial intelligence, supply chains, critical minerals and the climate crisis.
“But this statement shows the Conservative Government has failed to deliver the comprehensive trade deal they promised in the 2019 manifesto, or to secure the ally status under the Inflation Reduction Act that is so important for the automotive sector and for the green transition."
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