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U.S. overtakes Germany as UK's biggest source of imports: UK trade department

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss arrives in Downing Street in London, Britain June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States overtook Germany as the biggest supplier of imports into Britain for the first time since the early 2000s in the last financial year, the UK government said on Friday.

British trade minister Liz Truss has said the United States tops her priority list for post-Brexit trade deals and has been in Washington this week, along with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, to promote UK-US ties.

Imports from the United States increased by 14% to 78.27 billion pounds ($94.43 billion) in the year to April, the Department for Trade said, while imports from Germany fell by 0.1% to 78.26 billion pounds.

While Germany has long been Britain’s biggest source of imports, the United States was already Britain’s largest export market, with exports reaching a record high of 121.6 billion pounds in the last financial year.

“Now that the U.S. is our largest market for both exports and imports, there has never been a better time for us to make the most of this golden opportunity and deliver a free trade agreement with the US,” Truss said in a statement.

The trade department said financial services imports from the United States had grown by 15% since 2018, with transatlantic trade in services worth more than 55 billion pounds annually to both countries.

During her four-day visit to Washington and New York, Truss met U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, as well as senior officials and figures from Congress and businesses.

The trade department also said Britain’s Royal Air Force Red Arrows aerobatic team, famed for their aerial displays at military and royal occasions, had this week begun a three-month tour of North America to promote British trade and defense in more than 25 cities across the US and Canada.

(This story corrects timeframe for milestone)

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison