Thank you for contacting me about a UK-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
I support the Government’s commitment not to compromise the UK’s high animal welfare, environmental, food safety, and food import standards in any future FTA – including one with the US. Ministers do not want to endanger the UK’s domestic welfare production standards either.
With regard to chlorinated chicken, the EU Withdrawal Act has transferred all existing EU food safety provisions onto the UK statute book. This includes current import requirements, which for example ban the use of artificial growth hormones in domestic and imported products, and stipulate that no products besides potable water are approved to decontaminate poultry carcases.
Responding to the concerns many have raised, the Government has announced it will set up a Trade and Agriculture Commission. Through this body Ministers can ensure close engagement with the agriculture industry to help inform, shape, and guide our agricultural trade policy so that this is recognised throughout our trade negotiations.
Once the Commission has finished its work, it will produce a recommendatory report in line with its terms of reference that will be presented to Parliament by the Department for International Trade.
The benefits of an ambitious and comprehensive UK-US FTA are substantial. Aside from being the world’s largest economy, the US is the UK’s single largest trading partner. Total UK-US trade in the last year was valued at £220.9 billion, and our countries have over £700 billion invested in each other’s economies. Every day, over a million Britons and more than a million Americans work for companies from the other nation.
The agricultural sector would be a winner with lower input costs and a bigger export market. Moreover, the 30,000 Small and Medium Sized Enterprises who export to the US from all parts of the UK would benefit from the cutting of tariffs, trade barriers and red tape.
I welcome that the Government has consulted widely on its negotiating plans. Indeed, there were 158,720 responses submitted to the consultation recently held on trade negotiations with the US. Respondents noted, for example, that further reducing US tariffs across the automotive, ceramics, chemicals, processed food and drinks and textiles sectors could be beneficial.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
EDWARD LEIGH MP