US trade gains in 2019 and prospects for US-UK trade negotiations were outlined at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) annual Outlook Forum held in Arlington, Virginia writes John Wilkes.
Gregg Doud, US Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), and Ted McKinney, Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Affairs, USDA, gave detail.
Trade deals with Japan and China were deemed significant.
Mr Doud described the Japanese deal as ‘the most unsung agreement of all time’. Negotiations were completed in just six weeks in 2019.
He cited the comprehensive nature of China Phase 1: “It is not so much a trade deal as a resolution of US disagreements with China over many years.”
Hundreds of hours were spent negotiating 57 specific timelines, aligned with China’s commitment to purchase £62 billion of US produce over two years.
The new United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) still awaits assent in Canadian parliament, but Mr Doud predicted this would happen shortly.
He said a notable component of USMCA was definitive bio-scientific and biotechnological phraseology.
This would form a template for future trade deals and be USTR’s focus in negotiation with the UK.
In conversation with the UK Food Standards Agency, Mr McKinney challenged ‘a big myth that US plants use chlorinated water to process poultry. This myth has permeated fears of US products overall’.
Mr McKinney has extended an invitation to Defra Secretary George Eustice to visit the US and meet with USTR, which would assist with introductions to American farmers and processors.
Mr McKinney said USTR wanted Mr Eustice ‘to see it for himself’.
He said: “There were some things which the UK, to its credit, has come to believe in. They have a different view on animal welfare. We must communicate that we have a similar view.
“The US does not care any less about its crops or critters than UK does. We have to show that.”
Mr McKinney encouraged the UK to grasp regulatory independence.
He said: “I cannot tell you the joy it brings to my heart to have the UK, a G7 country which can raise its hand and vote on its own, for Codex [International food standards] and involvement with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.”
Mr McKinney supports US-UK farmer-to-farmer exchanges in order to better understand each other’s points of view, and believes the UK is willing and interested in conversation.
He said: “That is a powerful thing. Let us let the farmers talk for goodness sake.”