LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Kentucky agriculture council met with members of the British Embassy to talk about the potential free trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom, which would impact some of Kentucky’s signature industries.
“The big deal here is that the United Kingdom is already a tremendous trade partner for Kentucky,” said Commissioner Ryan Quarles.
The UK is the third-largest trading market for the state. Kentucky had an average of 200-million dollars in goods to the UK over the past five years, according to Will Snell with the University of Kentucky’s Agriculture Economics Department. Snell said Kentucky is one of the most trade-dependent states in the country.
“We’re in a location that has excellent production and not enough citizens to be able to utilize all that, so we have to trade,” said Mark Haney, Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation President.
Bourbon is a signature Kentucky industry. Normally a fourth to a third of the state’s bourbon exports go to the UK, according to Eric Gregory, Kentucky Distillers’ Association President. Gregory said over the past three years producers have been hit by a tariff.
“During that time, our exports with the UK now have dropped 61%,” said Gregory. “So, we are very anxious to get back to zero tariffs and engage with free and fair trade with our partners in the UK.”
According to UK’s consul general, that is an issue the UK wants to resolve as a close ally.
“We are absolutely committed in the UK to these tariffs disputes and to reaching a suitable negotiated settlement as soon as possible,” said Alan Gogbashian, Consul General, British Consulate Chicago.
Another signature industry that has a stake in this, horses. The head of two thoroughbred trade organizations in Kentucky, Chauncey Morris, said maintaining the current relationship and transparency with the UK about infectious diseases or threats to all live animals will be important.
“The UK is a very stern believer in animal welfare and ensuring even in the context of trade that the animals are sure taken care of,” said Jennifer Groover, Senior Policy Advisor for Trade & Agriculture, British Embassy.
Negotiations for a free trade agreement are waiting to resume with the new Biden administration.