MPs warn UK government against rushing into US trade negotiations

Brexit | 1 May 2018

MPs have warned the British government against rushing into trade negotiations with the US that could harm the UK's links with other countries.


The British government has been warned of the potential risks of holding trade talks with the US without first developing a comprehensive, evidence-based trade strategy.

A report from the cross-party International Trade Committee has acknowledged that rushing into a post-Brexit free trade agreement (FTA) with the US may seem tempting as the UK strives to reestablish itself as a major player in global trade. However, it also noted that this may have a negative impact on Britain's relationship with other nations.

Currently, the government has only committed to undertaking a limited modeling of the potential effects of a UK-US FTA, but MPs are cautioning that a more comprehensive analysis of the pros and cons of such a deal are essential to make an educated decision.

Any FTA with the US would necessarily involve the reduction of non-tariff barriers and the alignment of certain regulations with US standards, so careful thought must be given to how much the UK is willing to concede in this respect, and whether any of these decisions might limit Britain's future ability to achieve a similar trade consensus with the EU or other countries.

Moreover, the specific challenges of negotiating with the US as a federal nation need to be taken into consideration. Any deal with the federal government would not necessarily guarantee market access for UK service providers at a state or local level without senior sub-federal participation in the US negotiating team, meaning this issue needs to be a key priority for any talks.

Committee chair Angus MacNeil said: "Will the UK align its regulations with the US, and risk erecting impenetrable trade barriers with our other global partners, particularly the EU? If there is a clash between the regulatory regimes of the EU and the US, which does the government plan to prioritize?

"These issues need to be worked out, not just before negotiating a deal with the US, but also before we finalize our future trading relationship with the EU."