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Trump Promises ‘Big’ U.K. Trade Deal. Here Are the Challenges

Disputes over chicken, beef and cars need to be ironed out before a deal can be made.


President Donald Trump took to Twitter Tuesday morning to tout a burgeoning trade deal between the United States and the United Kingdom, promising it will be “big” and “exciting.”

Easier said than done.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter Tuesday morning to tout a burgeoning trade deal between the United States and the United Kingdom, promising it will be “big” and “exciting.”

Easier said than done.

Before London can enter any trade deal on its own, it must first exit the European Union. It has until March of 2019 to do so, and talks are just getting underway.

If Britain can see itself out of the EU, and the free trade zone on the European continent, it could then enter into a bilateral deal with the United States.  One of the main obstacles to such an agreement, however, is food.

Even before Trump took office, the United States and the European Union were negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and agricultural products were a major issue. Any U.S.-UK agreement would also likely hinge this same issue.

As talks got underway this week in Washington, Britain’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox conceded that his side might have to make concessions on chickens bathed in chlorine coming from the United States.

Right now, EU regulations prohibit the the product over safety concerns.

“The UK Poultry meat industry stands committed to feeding the nation with nutritious food and any compromise on standards will not be tolerated,” Richard Griffiths, head of the British Poultry Council, said Monday. “A secure post-Brexit deal must be about Britain’s future food security and safety.”

There is also a split on American beef fed with hormones that promote growth. The World Trade Organization has determined that this product poses no risk to consumers, but the European Union has refused to comply with the ruling, and will not import the product.

Genetically modified crops could also be an issue. These products do exist in the EU food supply, but the approval process for them is much slower than it is in the United States. American farmers want the process sped up; the National Farmers’ Union in the U.K. is open to the idea of reforming the process to make it faster.

There are also more straightforward issues regarding tariffs on imported goods. While import penalties are relatively low across the board, some products, like cars, carry a high fee. Right now, any car entering Britain from outside of the EU must pay a 10 percent tariff.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting for members of the House of Representatives Tuesday, Fox said his overall goal was to increase the volume of trade between the United States and Britain.

“The EU itself estimates that 90 percent of global growth in the next decade will come from outside Europe,” he said, “and I believe as the head of an international economic department that this is an exciting opportunity for the U.K. to work even more closely with our largest single trading partner, the U.S.”

Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

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