U.S. to Demand Agricultural Access in Future U.K. Trade Deal

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. laid out its vision for a sweeping trade deal with post-Brexit Britain -- and it’s likely to raise alarm bells in London.

President Donald Trump’s administration published its “negotiating objectives” for a future trade agreement late Thursday, including “comprehensive access” for agricultural goods and a demand to remove “unwarranted barriers” to trade in the farm industry related to health and safety checks.

As a member of the European Union, the U.K. is unable to strike its own trade deals and the pursuit of agreements with countries including the U.S., India and Australia is a key argument put forward by supporters of Brexit. But opponents have argued that a U.S. trade deal would mean opening up Britain to changes in standards including accepting chlorine-treated chicken and genetically modified crops.

“We’ve always been very clear that we will not lower food standards as part of any future trading agreement,” Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman, Alison Donnelly, told reporters in London. The U.K. will publish its own objectives for a U.S. trade agreement “shortly,” she said.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox later posted on Twitter that he’s seeking "an ambitious agreement with high standards for businesses, workers and consumers." He said the U.K.’s negotiating objectives will be published "in due course," and they will be outlined to Parliament before talks start.

The U.S. also made clear it will seek measures to prevent the U.K. from “manipulating” its currency, and to ensure it has the ability to “take appropriate action” if Britain negotiates a trade deal with a “non-market country” such as China. Improved links with Beijing are also a priority for the British government.

“The U.K.’s decision to leave the EU creates a new opportunity to expand and deepen the U.S.-U.K. trade relationship,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s office said in the paper. “Multiple tariff and non-tariff barriers have challenged U.S. exporters in key sectors while the U.K. has been a member state of the EU.”

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