An investigation by the Commons International Trade committee concluded that Britain’s agriculture industry is likely to be traded off for a beneficial deal for the UK’s world-leading financial services sector in any free trade deal with Donald Trump’s America.
This will help to counter the negative impact of losing out on EU passporting rights for banks, which are essential for operating throughout the EU.But rushing to do a deal that benefits British service companies will risk leaving the UK losing more than we gain, the committee says.It warns that agricultural and manufacturing firms would lose out in such a scenario.And the Government has yet to set out how it intends to help industries that are negatively affected by the deal.
The committee said the biggest gain possible would be a boost to national economic output of between 2-3 per cent.There are also warnings that a US-UK trade deal would lead to privatisation seeping into the NHS. Evidence from health groups found that US companies are “particularly keen to gain access to the public health systems of Europe”.
The International Trade committee recommends working across parties to achieve political consensus on its post-Brexit trade policy because trade deals are likely to take years to negotiate and could involve governments led by different parties over the coming years.
SNP MP and chair of the International Trade committee Angus MacNeil said: “It would be a catastrophic error to rush into negotiations with the US without a comprehensive trade strategy.
“The economic benefits of a US deal are presently unproven. The Government appears to be engaged in an exercise in doublethink: on the one hand telling us that new trade deals will be the pot of gold at the end of the Brexit rainbow, while simultaneously saying it’s too soon to offer a realistic estimate of the possible contents or benefits a deal with its highest-priority target.”
“Even in ideal circumstances, trade-offs will have to be made to get a comprehensive US deal. Without a trade strategy, we have no idea what these may be. Will the Government, in their rush to secure the future of the UK services sector, sacrifice UK agriculture or manufacturing? What does the Government intend to do to help industries if they are negatively affected by this bargain?
“It was clear in our inquiry that questions about trade with the EU and with the US cannot be answered in isolation. 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 prioritise? These issues need to be worked out, not just before negotiating a deal with the US, but also before we finalise our future trading relationship with the EU.”
“As the committee notes, a trade agreement with the US can provide opportunities for the UK economy, businesses, workers and consumers. Our future independent trade policy will support the whole of the UK and future FTAs are one way we can build closer trade ties with countries around the world.
“While we are committed to a mutually beneficial economic trading arrangement with the US, we have been clear that the UK will maintain food standards and ensure rigorous protections for the NHS are included in all trade agreements the UK is party to.”