CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown has announced a series of initiatives to boost trading links between the UK and US to coincide with this week's visit by President Bush.

In a speech to the CBI's annual conference in Birmingham yesterday, Mr Brown said he did not believe the transatlantic dispute over steel tariffs would lead to a trade war between the US and the European Union.

He said: ''We know that damaging trade and regulatory disputes between Europe and the US have in the past hindered commerce and damaged transatlantic relations, and it is time now for us all to make the effort to move beyond them.''

The World Trade Organisation has ruled that tariffs imposed by the US on foreign steel imports are illegal and must be lifted.

Teesside steelmaker Corus has suffered a ten per cent fall in sales in the first half of this year as a result of the restrictions, which the European Union has said must be lifted by December 15.

Mr Brown said he wanted to deepen the relationship between the UK and US, announcing an ''enterprise agreement'' to strengthen links between business and universities. Best practice in enterprise education in schools and universities would be shared, with young entrepreneurs in the US and UK able to learn from each other, he said.

A joint US-UK forum was also being set up to discuss common productivity challenges.