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Analysis

6 reasons we’ll get bullied by a Trump trade deal

by Nick Kent | 03.03.2019

Donald Trump’s proposals for a trade deal with the UK after Brexit would lower food standards, increase NHS costs and bankrupt British farmers. It’s yet another example of how we will be poorer and weaker after Brexit.

The US Trade Representative has published a 15-page wish list for planned trade talks. Beneath the friendly rhetoric about how Brexit provides a “new opportunity to expand and deepen the US-UK trade relationship” lurks a rather different agenda. If Trump gets his way, the UK will be hurt in six ways.

We’ll be bullied

The UK will have less leverage in trade talks because the EU is the world’s largest single market with 500 million people. Outside the EU we will be a market of just 65 million people. The US economy will be five times bigger. America’s president dislikes imports and loves exports. As the UK has a trade surplus with the US, he will want the UK to give a lot of market access for little in return.

Chlorine-washed chicken

Trump wants lower food standards so US producers can export more easily to the UK. His ambassador to the UK characterises EU farm animal welfare standards as “protectionist”. The reality is different. Insanitary conditions for poultry production mean US farmers wash their chickens in a chlorine solution.  

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Bankrupt farmers

Weaker regulation would make it harder for British produce to be exported to the EU, where 60% of our food and drink exports go. The combination of this and cheap imports from the US could lead our farmers to fold (see paragraph 62).

Dearer drugs for NHS

Trump wants American pharmaceutical giants, whose inflated prices are unregulated in the US, to have “full market access” to the UK. This is an attempt to stop the NHS keeping the price of drugs down through its huge buying power. US regulators are prohibited from using the kind of clinical and cost-effectiveness rules that the NHS uses.  

Weaker consumer protection

The US wants the UK to dump EU business regulations and adopt US ones instead,   weakening protection for consumers. What’s more, British business would be at risk of unfair competition from cheaper US goods while Trump wants to continue to use “national security” as a catch-all excuse to bump up tariffs on foreign imports.

Buy America, bye-bye Britain

The US president wants access to the £284 billion a year UK government procurement market while maintaining “buy America” policies at home. So the NHS might have to include US firms in any tendering exercise while British ones would remain excluded from many lucrative US government markets. Meanwhile, our companies will lose access to the £1.5 trillion procurement market in the rest of the EU after Brexit.

Trump’s trade wars with China and the EU are contributing to the worst trade crisis since 1945. After Brexit the UK will be vulnerable to Trump’s playground bullying, under pressure to back his claim that China is not a market economy and without the benefit of the EU’s ability to get the kind of good trade deals they have recently agreed with Canada and Japan.

Be careful not to choke on that chlorine-washed chicken now.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

9 Responses to “6 reasons we’ll get bullied by a Trump trade deal”

  • It all goes to underline why the EU is completely justified in not budging on the Backstop issue. A trade deal with the US pretty much excludes us trading the EU in the way we can as they would obviously want to protect themselves from foods that had been traded with lower standards. Somehow I don’t think that the 0.3 % improvement to our economy ( at the cost of our personal health and the NHS) somehow will make up for the 9.3% hit we take for the leaving the EU without a deal. It would also be nightmare deal to extract us from if we subsequently have a change of mind.
    I wonder how many people would vote for this sort of deal if we had a referendum! Maybe we should ask them.

  • The American way to wash the chicken flesh with chlorine is that it may have faeces on it. The EU has standards and regulations that mean faeces can not be anywhere near the flesh. There was a row about this last year when it emerged that some producers’ standards had slipped below the EU standards (when inspectors visited). Chicken that had fallen on the floor was picked up and thrown back on to the conveyor belt. There has all hell to play . If we had American chicken in the UK we would not be protected in the same way.
    I find it inconceivable that the British Tory government is behaving in this way and putting the well being and welfare of the country in grave danger. They are reckless idiots.

  • Nick Kent could also have included “pink slime” (finely textured beef) along with chlorine-washed chicken. Pink slime (check it out on Wikipedia) in banned in the EU – and Canada.

  • Thank god I live in France. They have their problems, to be sure, but they pale into insignificance with the problems looming on the horizon for blighty. You want to be pals with the Americans ? Only on their terms. Forget the special relationship, that was a desperate creation by Winston Churchill when we had our backs to the wall. Bear in mind we only finished paying off our US debt a couple of years ago. They’re not going to do us any favours.

  • It all shows that Britain rather than ”taking back control” will become a mere supplicant taking orders. The Japanese know this, the Chinese know this, the Indians know this, and of course, the USA knows this.

  • Only a fool or a weak and desperate country would walk into a deal with the US. They have more laws and lawyers to protect their interests than any of us, I suspect.
    They have the all encompassing clause that we cannot do anything that could affect the profit margines of any of their businesses. Including tobacco or dangerous food product items.

    What’s in it for Fox to be promoting this relationship so enthusiastically? He may be desperate but a golden hello no doubt waits for him when any deal beneficial to the US is signed.

  • Thank you Andy Harley for the information. Not only will the faeces be washed off my chicken by chlorine but I can look forward to ‘pink slime’ although the labeling will no doubt be more appetising!

  • Aside from the much publicised use of chlorinated chicken in the US, we should be extremly concerned about exposing ourselves to livestock impregnated with antibiotics. The US and EU are coming from complete opposite directions on the use of antibiotics in animals. The European Parliament recently introduced widespread restrictions, whereas the use in the US continues to increase at an alarming rate. This has obvious implications for human health. Given also the practice of hormone injections into cattle, British farmers may soon be compelled to do likewise in order to compete with US imports. And that would hit their export trade to the rest of Europe.
    Make no mistake, we would be very dependant on reaching an early trade deal with the US post Brexit, and therefore under alot of pressure to accept US food safety standards.

  • No to any dealings with Trump and America!

    That would be the worse scenario imaginable!

    Yes to remaining with the EU. After all these years, I feel closer to the EU and I don’t want any dealings with Trump. He can’t be reasoned with. Everyone in the world knows that!