Reports of a Post Brexit Free Trade Agreement Between the UK and USA
By David Hooper, July 16, 2019, Category: General News
There has been a lot of talk in the media about a US / UK Free trade agreement post Brexit. Recent reports suggest that if Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister this will be the first thing he will look to secure. However, how easy will this be? And how long will it take? Some argue that the economic benefits to the UK will actually be quite small and be more beneficial to the US than the UK. It has also been commented that the US will also have the upper hand in that any agreement has to be in the interests of US firms or else what’s the point as there is no desperate requirement for the USA in the grand scheme of things.
The Economist in 2018 also stated that one of the reasons for large scale investment by the US in the UK in the past was to access the EU Single Market a point made the US Chamber of Commerce. Therefore, in reality would the UK actually still be of interest to the USA?
What Progress has been made so far?
So what progress has there been so far behind the scenes, well the groundwork for a future deal began in 2017 with the establishment of US/UK Trade and Investment Working Group. In November 2018 President Trump notified congress that once the UK leaves the EU he intended to negotiate a trade agreement with the UK.
The US then set out its specific negotiating objectives in Feb 2019. These objectives looked at addressing tariffs with non tariffs. For some UK companies opening up the US market could be very beneficial especially if trade tariffs were reduced to zero and other barriers to entry are lowered, however, the same applies the other way, whereby US firms unable to target the UK due to existing EU/UK tariffs and non tariff barriers could start importing into the UK.
Concerns from the UK side
Some of the concerns raised in the UK concern the fact that the UK would need to relax certain rules around food hygiene as well as healthcare contracts. Although US firms already compete to deliver NHS contracts which go out for tender the issue is that the US uses different mechanisms for pricing medicines. There is currently a huge gap between what the NHS can afford, and the price certain US firms demand. This may be an area that President Trump will want to address before any deal is signed. Something that could impact on healthcare in the long term in the UK, The US may also demand that tariffs are scrapped on all US cars.
It should also be noted that Mr Trump may not actually be President after 2020 and that the World may have changed again – therefore any chance of a quick deal being agreed and in place with the USA may take years to complete in reality, if at all!
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