Trump envoys cheap Brexit promises
John Boltons proposal for sectoral U.S.-U.K. trade deals post Brexit has caused excitement in London, but cynical trade experts are not convinced.
Promises come cheap, they point out. When the U.S. asks Britain to sign on the dotted line, it will be Congress, U.S. farmers, and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer who dictate the conditions, not Trumps national security adviser.
“What Bolton is proposing is not realistic,” said Sam Lowe from the Centre for European Reform. “Why would Congress sign off on anything that doesnt have agriculture included?”
Any trade deal with the U.S. needs to be ratified by Congress — where Democrats have a majority in the House of Representatives, and interest groups, in particular farmers, work to make sure any trade deal is in their favor.
“All Congress cares about is agriculture and dismantling the EUs regulatory approach to food and chemicals,” Lowe argued. Any deal that falls short of that would not be ratified, regardless of Boltons assurances.
Case in point: Congress has been holding up Trumps new USMCA deal with Canada and Mexico for months over dairy exports, lumber tariffs, and weak labor rights protections. It has made clear the U.S. wont even consider negotiating a trade agreement with the EU that doesnt include market openings for U.S. beef and chicken.
Bolton did not mention this inconvenience during his visit in London, likely because he had other goals in mind.
“For Bolton, the promise of a trade deal is a carrot to get U.K. cooperation on security issues,” Lowe said. The need for Boris Johnsons administration to show that Brexit will be a success has not gone unnoticed in Washington. Promising trade deals gets Bolton friends in Downing Street without costing anything.
“Remember that Bolton is not a trade expert. All he cares about is getting leverage to get the U.K. to follow the U.S. on Huawei, Iran and China.”
David Henig, director of the U.K. Trade Policy Project, pointed out another flaw in Boltons proposal: “Partial trade deals that reduce tariffs in one sector are not legal under WTO rules.”
While “Trump and Bolton have shown before that they care little Read More – Source