The United Kingdom and the United States opened the first round of talks on a future trade deal on Tuesday. This has made London one of the top priorities after leaving the European Union. The talks with Washington are set to run parallel to post-Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
British Secretary in Charge of International Trade Lise Truss and US Secretary of Commerce Robert Lighthizer kicked off the two-week talks via video conference yesterday, in which a total of more than 100 officials from both sides will participate.
The United Kingdom hopes to benefit from a new deal by improving export conditions for cars, ceramics, whiskey and cheese, while the US side stated in its objectives last year that it would provide full access to American agricultural products to the country and would seek to reduce UK tariffs on goods made in the United States. .
Also high on the wish list of the British government, headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, deals with Australia, New Zealand and Japan, in addition to a trade agreement with the United States of America.
The United Kingdom, the UK’s largest single trading partner, accounted for nearly 19 per cent of all UK exports and 11 per cent of imports in 2018.
Little progress in negotiations with the European Union
Since the UK formally left the European Union on January 31, negotiations on a follow-up agreement with Brussels have continued to be difficult. There is no time to negotiate before the crucial summit in June. The UK government has already threatened to cut off the talks if there is no progress at the summit.
In addition, with the UK leadership sticking to the end of the transition period in December this year, it has become increasingly likely that the UK and the European Union will resume trade on WTO terms from 2021 onwards.
On Tuesday, Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney admitted that talks with London were not going well. He expressed concern that “time is running out and there is still a lot to do.”
Meanwhile, analysis by the United Kingdom’s Department of International Trade showed that the US-UK trade agreement is arguably more about symbolic policies than real economic benefits. By agreement, the British economy would grow by 0.16 percent (£ 3.4 billion) over the next fifteen years – if all tariffs were removed.
The UK currently has an annual trade surplus of £ 45 billion with the US.
The British leadership aims to conclude an agreement with the United States before the end of 2020, ideally at the same time as the European Union agreement. On the other hand, the timeframe will likely be a little narrower; After all, the US presidential and congressional elections are scheduled for November.
Trade experts assume that Johnson and US President Donald Trump are motivated to act quickly and thus achieve a personal political victory. However, a far-reaching trade agreement is unlikely to be reached so quickly.
Are UK standards dropping?
For his part, Boris Johnson – given the Conservative Party’s clear majority in the House of Commons – will not face much difficulty negotiating and adopting a trade agreement with the United States in the near future.
However, there are already many concerns and warnings that Washington is trying to access the UK’s National Health Service procurement markets. In addition, Washington will almost certainly push for chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef to be sold in the UK.
Johnson promised to hold “tough negotiations” in this regard. Trade Minister Truss also said London will not lower food safety standards.
Sam Lowe, a trade expert at the European Reform Center and a member of the UK government’s Strategic Trade Advisory Group, told EURACTIV.com that there are still many people in the UK government “who want to sign what they want the USA to put in front of them”
He believes: “The United States – like the European Union – tends to get what it wants.”
[Bearbeitet von Zoran Radosavljevic und Tim Steins]