The US has published its objectives for a proposed trade agreement with the UK – and its thinking highlights just how weak Britain's bargaining position will be in the post-Brexit global economy.
The US trade representative outlines many of the usual ways to increase trade between the two countries – namely, reducing tariffs and ensuring both sides share the same standards and regulations. But the emphasis is very much on the UK aligning itself with US standards. This will have major implications. It will move the UK away from the EU standards it currently has, which will harm trade with its most important trading partner and generate potential hurdles in a future trade deal with the EU.
The US is taking a tough line from the outset on a number of issues. With a population of 66m and GDP of roughly US$3 trillion, the UK is dwarfed by the bloc it is leaving – the EU's population is 500m and has a combined GDP of US$20 trillion. Plus, the UK has a transparent need to both replace existing EU trade agreements and create new ones.
In Britain, concerns over food safety have been at the heart of debate over a potential US-UK trade agreement. The expectation of American chlorine-washed chicken entering British markets as part of a deal quickly became politically contentious, splitting Theresa May's cabinet twice in 2017.
But the quandary facing the British government extends well beyond concerns over the consumer safety implications of US mass production methods. With US agricultural imports would also come US agricultural and sanitary and phytosanitary standards, which are in place to protect against diseases. This will create hurdles for British agricultural exports heading to the EU, as it will no longer meet EU standards. [...]
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Summary of US-UK Specific Negotiating Objectives
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