The US and UK are both attempting to craft a treaty to allow Britain to buy defence products from American companies without having to obtain export licences, a report in the Financial Times says.

The paper reports the treaty could represent a big victory for Tony Blair, the outgoing British prime minister, who repeatedly lobbied George W Bush over what has been a long-standing disagreement between the two countries.

The deal is likely to face opposition from the US Congress, which in previous years has blocked efforts by the administration to help the UK obtain waivers from arms-control restrictions.

Under the present system the US provides expedited approval for arms export applications from the UK and Australia. But UK officials say each licence requires more than a month to obtain and requests unrelated to Iraq and Afghanistan take longer.