U.S.-UK Trade Negotiations: Private Sector Priorities

Tuesday, May 5, 2020 - 5:00am

The U.S. business community is encouraged that the United States and the United Kingdom (UK) are committed to securing tangible improvements in our bilateral trade and investment relationship through a comprehensive, high-standard trade agreement. We stand ready to work closely with both governments to strengthen ties between our two nations—theworld’s largest and 5th largest economies, respectively. Especially in light of the profound economic disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are eager to work with U.S. and UK policymakers to advance these trade talks in a timely fashion.

As the two sides begin their negotiations, it is important to underline the considerable uncertainty surrounding the UK’s future trade policy. The U.S. business community is eager to see the UK and EU successfully conclude negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement by the end of the transition period, currently scheduled for December 31, 2020.

U.S. firms have invested more than $750 billion in the UK, and the American business community has a significant interest in ensuring the future stability and growth opportunities of the UK economy. Many of these investments were made in order to access the larger EU Single Market. With that in mind, it is vital that the UK secure a favorable trade agreement with the EU as quickly as possible. A continued lack of certainty about the way forward will continue to constrain inbound investment and risks limiting prospects for bilateral trade negotiations between the U.S. and UK.

We continue to believe it makes sense for the UK to reset its relationship with the EU before it turns to setting the terms of its trade ties with other trading partners. As it now appears the UK will proceed with the EU and U.S. negotiations in parallel, we see considerable opportunities for a U.S.-UK agreement to advance global standards, particularly in the digital economy, financial services, and emerging technologies. The two sides should also endeavor to remove all tariffs and establish wide-ranging regulatory cooperation mechanisms with meaningful opportunities for stakeholder engagement.

Reducing or eliminating barriers to two-way trade and investment would measurably boost the long-term economic outlook for both the United States and the UK, with particular benefits to small and medium-sized companies. The COVID-19 pandemic makes this growth more imperative than ever. Greater cooperation between our countries would provide a pathway for joint leadership in response to shared challenges in a rapidly changing global economy. For example, the United States and UK should work together to strengthen global trade rules and

institutions to adapt to the challenges posed by non-market economies. Moreover, the United States and UK can lead global efforts to remove trade barriers for critical materials including medicine, medical equipment, and other products necessary to support public health.

In keeping with the Chamber’s mission to advocate for free enterprise, competitive markets, and rules-based trade and investment, the Chamber regards these negotiations as an opportunity to remove barriers to commerce. We recommend hewing closely to the negotiating objectives established in the U.S. Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), as the U.S. administration has indicated it intends to do.

To summarize the Chamber’s objectives, we urge U.S. and UK negotiators to consider the following goals:

  • Single Comprehensive Deal: Conclude a single, comprehensive agreement that reflects an outcome on all issues under negotiation, as agreed by the parties, rather than seeking agreement on a subset of issues or pursuing a phased approach.
  • Trade in Industrial Goods: Eliminate all tariffs on industrial goods traded between the United States and the UK, include a high-standard chapter on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) to address non-tariff barriers, and expand market access for remanufactured goods exports by ensuring that they are not classified as used goods that are restricted or banned.
  • Trade in Services: Secure high standard rules and open market access commitments to ensure access to the U.S. and UK services markets, including obligations for new services.
  • Trade in Agricultural Products: Address market access through tariff elimination and by resolving concerns about non-science-based restrictions on agricultural trade with a high- standard chapter on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures.
  • Protect Intellectual Property: Address intellectual property (IP) rights and enforcement as they relate to patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets to enhance U.S. and UK leadership in innovative industries.
  • Protect Investment: Eliminate forced technology transfers, reduce barriers to foreign direct investment by ensuring non-discriminatory treatment, ensure a high standard of protection for U.S. investors subject to an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. Good Regulatory Practices: Formalize a joint commitment to follow good regulatory practices, including sufficient advance notice and comment periods and in-depth consultations that include both domestic and foreign stakeholders.
  • Emerging Technologies: Promote effective regulatory cooperation to address emerging technologies and prevent unnecessary regulatory divergence.
  • Digital Trade: Facilitate a mutual right to transfer and store data across borders for all sectors, prohibit data localization requirements, ban customs duties and taxes on electronic transmissions, promote risk-based approaches to cybersecurity, foster cloud use across sectors, ensure non-discriminatory and interoperable frameworks for the protection of personal information, and align any plans to tax digital services with international tax regimes.
  • Government Procurement: Establish open, fair, transparent, predictable, non- discriminatory, and value-based rules to govern government procurement.
  • Procedural Fairness for Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices: Seek standards to ensure that government regulatory reimbursement regimes are transparent, provide procedural fairness, are nondiscriminatory, and provide full market access for U.S. products. Section 232 Tariffs: Remove expeditiously the U.S. Section 232 tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from the UK.

For a detailed list of objectives, see the document linked above.