Great Britain plans to open a U.S. branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society in Mississippi, part of a push to strengthen U.K.-U.S. ties and trade post-Brexit, British news agencies are reporting.
The Telegraph in London reported: “The move has added significance given both Theresa May, the prime minister, and Donald Trump, the American president, have signaled their desire for a U.K.-U.S. trade deal after Brexit.”
“Indeed one of Mr. Trump’s closest political allies, Phil Bryant, the governor of Mississippi, has agreed to serve as the branch’s chairman of the board of governance,” the Telegraph said, adding that officials from both countries have already held “scoping talks” for the trade deal, which could not be made until the U.K. formally leaves the European Union in March 2019.
The Daily Express called the move “historic,” and quoted a spokesman for the Royal Commonwealth Society saying, “The establishment of a branch of the RCS in the U.S. will serve to strengthen these links to mutual advantage.”
Bryant on Monday posted on Facebook that he is “delighted” the RCS is opening its first U.S. branch in Mississippi.
“Britain and our state already have strong economic, military and cultural connections, and I look forward to strengthening those bonds by serving as chairman of the new branch’s board of governance,” Bryant said.
In May, Bryant and a Mississippi Development Authority trade delegation took a trip to London, where Bryant was awarded the Freedom of the City of London honor. Later that month, a group of British government and business officials visited Mississippi, to check out the state’s forestry inventory and products. Bryant at the time said he hoped to expand British business with the state.
Since 2012, state-assisted projects with the U.K. have brought $211 million in investments and nearly 500 jobs to Mississippi, from companies such as Drax Biomass, which produces wood fuel pellets, and Rolls Royce, which tests rocket engines.
The Royal Commonwealth Society was founded in 1868 and is a network of people, organizations and countries around the world. It champions democracy, human rights and sustainable development with 52 member states. Other members in the Americas are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.