UK Trade Negotiators Eye Blockchain Provisions in Coming US Trade Talks

The U.K.'s trade negotiators want to set the pace for global blockchain regulation in its upcoming free trade talks with the United States.

Mar 11, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:18 a.m. UTC

The United Kingdom's trade negotiators want to influence global blockchain regulation in its upcoming free trade talks with the United States, according to the negotiating objectives released by the U.K.’s Department for International Trade (DIT).

The plan is straightforward and the “opportunity,” as DIT called it, is clear. In its 184-page action plan released March 2, U.K.’s post-Brexit trade broker said it will “seek to deliver” favorable digital trade terms for small to midsize businesses, including those in blockchain. 

“In areas such as data flows, blockchain, driverless cars and quantum technology we have the opportunity to help shape global rules through ambitious digital trade provisions,” the document states.

The document did not provide any actual details, and DIT declined to elaborate on its negotiating stance ahead of the talks. Such discussions have taken on heightened importance post-Brexit, especially given the U.K.’s already close trading ties with the U.S.

Peter Hunn, CEO of the smart contracts API firm Clause, said a deal could be beneficial for the blockchain space. 

“There is a lot that can be done here to provide standardized interfaces using DLT systems and smart contract code that reduce administration, financial and compliance burdens,” he said.

DIT appears to have prioritized striking a strong digital trading partnership within its coming framework. An entire chapter of the negotiating objectives deal with “digital trade” including data protection, an open internet and cross-border data flows, among other issues.

The U.K. seeks to “future-proof the agreement in anticipation of rapid technological developments,” according to an accompanying press release.

There are some calls for closer cross-border crypto partnerships within the report. In an included appendix that summarizes the DIT’s trade agreement public comment period, held in summer 2018, some “business associations” are said to have lobbied DIT for closer fintech ties.

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