UK and Texas pledge closer trade ties. A wider deal with the US government has stalled

LONDON (AP) — Britain signed a trade agreement with Texas on Wednesday, the eighth the U.K. has inked with a U.S. state in the absence of a wider free trade deal with the U.S. government.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the document in London alongside U.K. Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch. Abbott also met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who told him it was an “exciting moment.”

The “statement of mutual cooperation” is not a full trade deal because individual U.S. states do not have the power to sign those, but it commits Britain and Texas to improve cooperation between businesses and tackle regulatory barriers to trade.

“Understand that this is far more than a document,” Abbott said. “What we signed our names to today is a pathway to increased prosperity.”

During and after Britain’s 2016 referendum on European Union membership, supporters of Brexit argued that a chief benefit of leaving the bloc, and its vast free market of almost half a billion people, was the chance for the U.K. to make new trade deals around the world.

U.K.-U.S. trade talks were launched with fanfare soon after Britain left the EU in 2020, but negotiations faltered amid rising concern in the U.S. administration about the impact of Brexit, especially on Northern Ireland.

Instead, Britain has resorted to signing agreements with states including Florida, Indiana and North Carolina.

Although these agreements do not lower tariffs, as a free trade deal would, they can provide some help for businesses through recognizing U.K. qualifications or addressing state-level regulatory issues.