Nigel Huddleston is in Washington to deepen UK-US trade ties and secure two wins that will boost jobs, investment and exports across the Atlantic.

  • Trade Minister Nigel Huddleston visits US to sign the UK’s fourth state-level MoU to boost trade and investment with Oklahoma
  • UK-Oklahoma pact will focus on boosting green trade, particularly in carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS)
  • Stateside visit will also secure pioneering agreement which resolves a major trade barrier, making it easier for UK architects to operate in the US

Trade Minister Nigel Huddleston is in Washington to deepen UK-US trade ties and secure two wins that will boost jobs, investment and exports across the Atlantic.

He will open his visit by signing a state-level trade Memorandum of Understanding with Oklahoma, the fourth such agreement between the UK and a US state, before welcoming a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between UK and US architect regulators.

The MoU with Oklahoma will unlock opportunities for UK businesses to export more and encourage inward investment, which will in turn drive economic growth and create jobs in the UK, contributing to the government’s priority to grow the economy.

It aims to boost the £174.4m worth of goods UK companies exported to the UK in 2022 and generate more jobs for exporters in the UK. Nearly 3,000 jobs in Oklahoma are supported by exports to the UK and nearly 10,000 people in the state are employed by British companies.

Top goods exports from UK to Oklahoma in 2022 included nuclear equipment, precious stones and metals and photographic equipment, including medical and navigational.

The Minister will attend an event on 19 April with industry bodies to welcome the ground-breaking architect MRA. This is the first of its kind signed by the UK’s Architects Registration Board (ARB) and will ensure UK architects can take advantage of new opportunities in several states across the United States.

Practising architecture in the US requires licensing, typically at state level, which makes it harder for UK architects to work in the country. Under the agreement, eligible UK architects and businesses will face significantly less testing and a shorter process to get a licence in participating jurisdictions.

British architects have made significant contributions to the US landscape, having designed several well-known buildings including the African-American Museum in Washington DC and JFK Airport in New York by Sir David Adjaye and Andrew Whalley respectively. Architecture and engineering services in the UK is worth £22bn, with architectural services employing around 70,000 people across the country.

The MRA could increase UK services exports to the US by around £40 million per annum.

Business and Trade Minister Nigel Huddleston said:

I’m thrilled to be in America building on our strong trading relationship with the US through our innovative programme of state-level MoUs and a trailblazing agreement between US and UK architect regulators.

Both these agreements will benefit British businesses, unlock huge opportunities in clean energy and technology through our MoU with Oklahoma and make it easier for our world-leading British architects to export their services across the Atlantic.

The US is our largest trading partner, and these wins reflect our successful twin-track approach to trade with the US, strengthening links with individual states in parallel with work with the federal government.

The Oklahoma MoU will focus on decarbonisation, particularly through boosting collaboration and investment in areas such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS). The Government has identified CCUS as an area of economic opportunity for the UK – expected to create up to 50,000 British jobs by the end of this decade.

The UK already has MoUs in place with Indiana, North Carolina and South Carolina, which are helping UK businesses meet new buyers and secure new contracts. We are currently discussing future agreements with states including Utah, Texas and California.

BritishAmerican Business CEO Duncan Edwards said:

The UK government’s state-level engagement makes good business sense. We welcome today’s signing and look forward to helping transatlantic companies develop new business ties in the state of Oklahoma.

While these MoUs foster further trade and investment opportunities at a local level, our hope is that their success can help put trade talks at a federal level back on the agenda.

The architect MRA is the most accepted agreement ever signed by NCARB and covers three of the five largest US states by GDP; California, Illinois and Texas.

Minister for Building Safety Lee Rowley said:

This agreement will help increase the presence of UK architects and architectural sector in the United States and on the global stage.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities developed the legislation to enable the Architects Registration Board to sign these types of agreements and has supported them throughout their negotiations with NCARB.

This agreement, and others like it with partners across the world, create more international opportunities for architectural firms based all around the UK and increase the talent and breadth of architects here.

ARB Chief Executive and Registrar Hugh Simpson said:

This landmark agreement that ARB has signed with our US counterparts means that from 25 April, UK architects and their firms can take advantage of a much simpler licensing process for UK qualified architects in the United States, with fewer tests and a streamlined application process. US qualified and licenced architects will also benefit from a quicker and simpler process to join the UK register in a way which maintains standards and upholds confidence.

Foster + Partners is a British studio for architecture, urbanism and design founded in 1967. It is the largest architectural firm in the UK with offices established across the world.

Foster + Partners Senior Partner and Global Head of HR Charlotte Sword said:

We welcome the recent ARB-NCARB mutual recognition agreement, which will make it easier for our UK qualified architects to gain licensure in the participating US states and for our US architects to work here in the UK.


Published 18 April 2023