The deal will mean British businesses have better access to Florida, the fourth largest state economy in the US, and the 15th biggest economy in the world.
With the Biden administration currently not doing national free trade deals London has been pursuing state-by state agreements.
This was the seventh, and by far the biggest, state deal so far and follows an initial meeting between DeSantis and Badenoch in London in April.
Badenoch, in Jacksonville, Florida to sign the deal, told Dailymail.com: ‘This is the next best thing doing it state by state level, and certainly the biggest one we’ve ever done.
‘I’m particularly proud of it because it started when I met Governor DeSantis in London when he came on his trade mission. So, we decided to do one there and we’ve actually gone on and done it. It’s the most efficient one that we’ve done as well. It’s trying to solve problems that are specific to the U.K. and Florida.’
Kemi Badenoch signed a trade deal with Florida
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the U.K. felt like a ‘second home’ when he went there
Badenoch refrained from commenting in detail on the U.S. election, where DeSantis is currently running second in the race for the Republican nomination in 2024, but far behind Donald Trump.
But she said: ‘I really like Governor DeSantis, I found him very warm and engaging, and we had a lot in common when we had our first meeting. I think that it’s not for me to comment too much on US politics. Obviously, we would welcome any administration that wants to have an FTA (free trade agreement) with the UK.
‘The fact that Governor DeSantis has been so proactive in helping us get this done I think it’s really positive.’
Florida’s $1.1 trillion economy is about the same size as that of Spain.
Top beneficiaries of the new deal will include the space, AI, financial technology and insurance industries, and it will also promote sharing of research by academic institutions.
DeSantis praised Badenoch for pursuing an anti-woke agenda in the UK.
He said: ‘The Secretary and I have also done work in our own spheres on making sure that our institutions and our society are governed by sound principles and not some of the outlandish ideology that we’re seeing.’
DeSantis added that the UK is a ‘second home’ for all Americans and he was ‘proud’ to sign the trade deal because of the ‘special relationship’.
Over one million U.K. tourists visited Florida last year, including to Disney World
A SpaceX rocket takes off from Cape Canaveral, Florida
He said: ‘If you look at how our country was birthed, all the key things that we take for granted that informed our Constitution, our view of the rule of law, that was all informed by our founding fathers being what they consider to be Englishmen.
‘You see that when you’re out there, there’s a reason why we have a special relationship.’
Outlining the trade deal DeSantis said the U.K. is Florida’s top foreign investor, and British companies account for 70,000 jobs in the state.
The U.K. is Florida’s number one trade partner from Europe, growing by 190 per cent over the last five years, he added.
Florida welcomed 1.1 million tourists from the U.K. last year.
DeSantis said the deal – known as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) – will prioritize areas including space research, aerospace manufacturing, medical technology, financial technology, transportation infrastructure, artificial intelligence and semiconductors.
‘Additionally, we’ll encourage U.K.-based companies to expand their footprint in the Florida marketplace,’ he said.
‘Florida and the U.K. will also be connecting researchers, universities and students to further support academic success and research sharing.’
Ron DeSantis is running second to Donald Trump in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination
Badenoch said she would be speaking to California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday as the U.K. pursues a similar deal there.
Other states being looked at include Texas.
Britain is also making progress in talks with the U.S. federal government on a broader free trade agreement, she said.
She has had ‘very, very good conversations’ with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and ‘it’s going well,’ she said.
In June, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Biden announced the Atlantic Declaration, an action plan for deepening economic, technological and commercial ties.
However, the FTA Britain had hoped for under the previous Trump administration remains a distant prospect, with Biden having put talks on ice.