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18 Dec, 2023 15:19

Biden cancels UK trade deal – media

The proposed agreement reportedly faced opposition from US lawmakers
Biden cancels UK trade deal – media

The US will not go through with plans for a “foundational” trade agreement with the UK, Politico reported on Monday, citing sources close to the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to the news outlet, a preliminary version of the deal had been prepared by the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) office earlier this year. It covered subjects such as digital trade, labor protections and agriculture, according to documents seen by Politico. Talks on the deal had been expected to start by the end of the year and wrap up ahead of next year's elections in both the UK and US. The proposed agreement was reportedly far from a traditional free trade deal, but was pitched as a road map to eventually securing one.

However, sources claim that US President Joe Biden decided to shelve the agreement after some of its provisions met with criticism in Congress. Lawmakers reportedly argued that the pact in its proposed form did not benefit the American public, especially farmers and workers.

Does this improve the lot of the farmers in Iowa? Does this help the US economy? And if it doesn't, they're not going to do it,” one of the sources said, summarizing the reaction to the proposed agreement at a recent meeting between the USTR and lawmakers.

Earlier reports indicated that the UK also had misgivings over the deal, especially with regard to food safety. According to a recent Guardian report, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has been unhappy with the prospect of allowing American food products, which, are produced in accordance with lower regulatory standards, to enter the UK market.

Similar concerns were voiced by Scottish ministers, who in October demanded that London clarify whether the proposed deal will conform with UK’s high standards of food safety and animal welfare.

While some experts noted that the deal could be beneficial, especially for the UK, others questioned whether it was really needed.

The trade has been going on fine without it,” Michael Mainelli, lord mayor of the City of London, told Politico, commenting on the report. According to the latest figures unveiled by the UK government, US-UK trade turnover in goods and services reached £310 billion ($392 billion) in Q3 2022 through Q2 2023, a 23.8% increase year-on-year. The US remains the UK’s largest trading partner, accounting for about 17% of total UK trade.

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