There are big issues affecting us at the moment. Coronavirus and floods are catching the news headlines – and quite understandably.

We are all too aware how floods have affected us locally, and the government must do what it can to make sure coronavirus does not add to our local woes.

But behind the scenes, the government is getting on with its work. Something announced this week, yet failing to secure much attention, is the government’s negotiating position on a future trade deal with the United States.

This is significant as it is the single most high profile prize from Brexit – our own trade policy determining our future relationship with our biggest trade partner.

There is plenty of talk about chlorinated chickens and hormone fed cows. We are not short of people talking down this relationship. Yet we already have a strong economic relationship with the US.

Here in the West Midlands we export £12,633 worth of goods to the US every minute. Over 3,000 regional businesses export to the US, with more importing from America.

Birmingham Airport handles around £350m of goods traded between the US and UK every year – the largest value of goods of any airport.

Given this success, it is a fair question to ask why a comprehensive US/UK trade deal is important. The answer is that we can build on this existing trade.

Our regional economy is based, largely, on the automotive sector. Half of all road vehicles sold from the UK to the US come from the West Midlands.

Whilst tariffs on road vehicles are small, regulatory barriers slow down our current exports. Remove tariffs and improve regulatory dialogue and we can immediately see an improvement of opportunity.

Add to that the various other economic sectors’ possible improvements, and the gain to the West Midlands economy could be an increase of around £360m worth of sales to the US. It is not insubstantial.

With five preparatory sets of talks already completed, and a further six scheduled for this year, there is anticipation from the US that we could see these talks completed by the time of the US presidential elections.

We shall see, but it will be an interesting time for us here in the UK. This will be the first time we have done a comprehensive free trade deal for many years. We have a lot to learn about how these things transpire.