Trading with Trump – What we can expect from a UK-US trade deal

Thursday, 20 April, 2017

A new briefing has outlined the likely elements of a UK-US trade deal and argues that it would contain more extreme forms of all the controversial elements of the deal that was being negotiated between the EU and the USA.

These elements include:

  • ‘Corporate courts’ that allow foreign corporations to sue governments outside of the national legal system to challenge things like environmental protection or public health policy.
  • Locking in privatisation of public services, including of the NHS.
  • Undermining our climate commitments.

On Wednesday, Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives was in London and said that “we are committed to working with President Trump and your government to achieve a bilateral trade agreement between the United States and Britain.” But the Trading with Trump briefing warns that, “not only does the US hold all the cards, the current Trump administration is taking an aggressive approach to trade. The UK will be walking into a negotiating room that is on a war footing, with a weak hand.”
 
Jean Blaylock, trade campaigner at Global Justice Now said:
 
“Being desperate to make a deal under any circumstances, while having a very weak bargaining hand, is the worst possible combination for the UK to be entering into any sort of trade discussions with the US, so it’s not surprising that Trump is keen to make a deal when it could so massively benefit US corporations. 
 
“Tariffs between the US and the UK are already low and trade levels are high. So any deal would be about stripping away protections around labour rights, public services and consumer standards that are hugely beneficial to ordinary people but occasionally inconvenient to business interests. There’s an enormously powerful private health care sector of the US that is licking its lips at the prospect of being able to open up the NHS under such a trade deal.”

 
The briefing also profiles key figures forming part of Trump’s trade team, including Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary. Ross is a billionaire investor who originally worked for Rothschild Inc, but then became known for asset-stripping failing companies and selling them on without regard for jobs, pensions or safety standards – from which he gets the nickname ‘the bankruptcy king’.
 
Trading with Trump highlights the problems with trade deals being shrouded in secrecy, with even key parliamentarians being kept in the dark. It argues that, “there is a huge democratic deficit in the UK around trade policy, which means we actually have even less chance of raising concerns through our democratically elected representatives than in the EU. Already MPs have asked to be updated on initial plans for similar trade deals and been told the government has no intention of sharing information.”

Photo: Alisdare Hickman/Flickr