Government in ‘cloud-cuckoo land’ over UK-US trade deal

#Brexit special section Economy

The government’s objectives for the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the United States are evidence it is “living in cloud-cuckoo land” because it is “risking our standards for a mere 0.07%-0.16% of GDP” growth.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) expects trade talks with the US to begin this month (March) and has vowed to “rigorously protect” the UK’s high food standards and the NHS.

The DIT document prescribing the government’s negotiating mandates, states the NHS “is not on the table” which, the Telegraphs reports, “unequivocally rules out the health service and drug prices being included in the discussions.”

UK-US deal to boost GDP by 0.07%-0.16%, over 15 years

Other negotiating objectives include defending the UK’s freedom to provide public services, ensuring high standards and protections for consumers and workers, and a vow to “uphold the UK’s domestic standards on food safety and animal welfare.”

The 184 page policy paper – The UK’s approach to trade negotiations with the US – estimates a post-Brexit trade deal with the US will boost the UK’s economy by 0.07% and 0.16% over the next 15 years, dependent on the terms of the deal struck.

The estimate is based on the government’s own model to predict various post-Brexit scenarios, one of which estimates the cost of a no-deal with the EU will see the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) fall by 7.6% over 15 years.

Government is ‘living in cloud-cuckoo land’

Director of international campaign group Global Justice Now, Nick Dreaden said: “These objectives show that the government is living in cloud-cuckoo land.

“While some of the language on the NHS and food standards sounds very nice, in fact this trade deal will allow US multinationals to challenge and change our regulations, potentially even creating a corporate court to allow US multinationals to sue the British government in a secretive parallel legal process.”

Dreaden said “the objectives aren’t based in reality”, questioning why the US would offer the UK greater access to its food markets without reciprocal arrangements to satisfy the US’s “own core demands” on medicines and food.

“This will not end well, and the fact the government is risking our standards for a mere 0.07%-0.16% of GDP is astonishing,” said Dreaden.

Get good deal with EU instead of ‘cosying up to Trump’

The general secretary of the Trade Union Congress Frances O’Grady said the government’s focus should be on getting a good deal with the EU instead of “cosying up to Donald Trump”.

O’Grady said: “President Trump doesn’t care about the UK. The only trade agreement he wants to strike is one that will line the pockets of his corporate backers. Nobody voted for chlorinated chicken or for US corporations to have more access to our personal data.”

Today (Monday), the prime minister’s Europe adviser David Frost arrived in Brussels with a 100-strong team to commence trade talks with the EU.

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