Friday, May 14, 2021

Britain’s hopes for a speedy trade deal with the US are fading

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Boris Johnson’s hopes for a quick trade deal with the United States – considered one of Brexit’s biggest prizes – have faded after new warnings that such pacts were not a priority for the news administration of President Joe Biden.

UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss insists much of the work needed to secure a trade deal has been done, but senior UK government officials have admitted a deal may not be possible in 2021.

Janet YellenMr Biden’s candidate for Treasury secretary said the new president has made it clear that the US economy needs to be modernized before removing more trade barriers.

“President Biden has made it clear that he will not sign any new free trade agreement until the United States invests heavily in American workers and our infrastructure,” she added.

Kim Darroch, Britain’s former ambassador to Washington, told the BBC it was “overkill” to think that a trade deal between the UK and the US would happen during Mr. Biden as president, saying Britain would not be a top priority.

“When it comes to making one, there are two much bigger trade deals he could potentially make, rather than one with a mid-sized country of 65 million people,” he said. declared.

Lord Darroch was referring to a possible trade deal with the EU or a new trans-Pacific agreement. Barack Obama, former US president, said in 2016 that the UK would be “at the bottom of the queue” for trade talks if it votes for Brexit.

British officials attempted to complete much of the content of a UK-US trade deal while Donald Trump was president, hoping he could move forward without additional work from the new team of Mr. Biden.

Ms Truss’ allies have not ruled out the possibility of a deal in 2021. “An agreement would show the world that together the UK and the US are committed to revitalizing rules-based trade and overcome Trump’s protectionism, ”one said.

But with the most difficult areas of a deal between the UK and the US – including agriculture and pharmaceuticals – still unresolved, hopes for a quick deal are fading.

If the US Congress is not notified that a deal will be completed by April, it will lose “fast track” approval protections under a obscure piece of US trade law that expires later this year. .

Under these protections, lawmakers are unable to make substantive changes or amendments to the text of an agreement, although they can vote for or against it as a whole. If the April deadline is not met, the deal risks becoming bogged down in disputes when it reaches Congress.

Meanwhile, David Davis, a former Conservative cabinet minister, argued that any UK trade deal with the US must re-examine London’s “asymmetry, inefficiency and fundamentally unfair”. extradition treaty with Washington.

“When the 2003 extradition treaty was introduced, it was sold on the grounds that it would be used primarily for pedophiles, murderers and terrorists,” he said.

“But the people we extradite to the United States today are, for the most part, white-collar businessmen who pose no physical danger to British or American citizens.”

Mr Davis said the extradition treaty was being used by the United States to extend jurisdiction over trade matters in the UK, an issue that would become more acute if a trade deal was signed between the two parties. Downing Street has denied that the treaty is unbalanced.

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