“What the US failed to obtain from the EU, it is now trying to gain from the UK”, says a blog post by Brexit and Environment. The US is pushing for the inclusion of its meat that’s produced to lower standards in a future trade deal with the UK. The 2020 annual report by the US Trade Representative features complaints about the EU’s “unscientific ban” on meat produced using hormones and other growth promotants. US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, stated earlier this week that the US will not sign a free trade deal with the UK unless its farmers can sell meat and other agricultural goods to Britain without barriers.
The UK government has always said it opposes the import of products such as chlorinated chicken, but is starting to backtrack on this. A recently leaked Downing Street memo called for “no specific policy” on animal welfare in the US trade talks. The Brexit and Environment blog suggests this matters for the UK’s future regulatory identity: will it stick with the precautionary principle adopted by the EU, or will it shift toward the risk-based approach embraced by the US? The UK’s apparent willingness to accept lower US standards also has repercussions for the EU-UK negotiations, as it makes it increasingly hard for the EU to accept only political commitments for a level playing field.
The future UK-US trade deal raises concerns among UK pork producers as well. They fear they will not survive competition from US pork, which has production costs about half that of the UK due to lower welfare standards and growth-enhancing feeds. Last month, the government refused to legally enshrine a “level playing field” on welfare standards in the Agriculture Bill.
Brexit & Environment, Chlorinated chickens cluck again
2020 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers
US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer statement
The Observer on the leaked Downing Street memo
Financial Times on the UK pork producers