Hindering a future UK/US agriculture Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is a ‘lack of coordination and resources’, according to Daniella Taveau, global regulatory and trade strategist with Washington DC international law firm, King and Spalding, writes John Wilkes.
A former international trade negotiator with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Ms Taveau was involved with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Ms Taveau believes both countries have genuine interest an willingness to find agreement, regardless of current political difficulties.
She said there was ‘tremendous camaraderie’ between the countries, but the US perceives a lack of coordination by the UK. She said: “The people that could make this happen are already spread so thin.”
The problem is exacerbated by the UK not having to negotiate trade agreements for a long time, which may be a handicap.
And while the current US administration touted itself as an ‘expert’ in negotiation, it had ‘not yet negotiated a single deal for US farmers; they need a win’, said Ms Taveau.
She expounded on aspects of trade negotiation which necessitate understanding complex issues.
“In addressing non-tariff barriers, one gets into areas where deep technical expertise is required combined with broad expertise of trade in general,” she added.
On a practical level there are key areas that need to be addressed.
Ms Taveau said it was important for the US to demonstrate to the UK that ‘some EU agricultural regulations are neither effective nor sustainable and do not address legitimate safety concerns’.
The impact of unfavourable UK media coverage about US agriculture was not helpful because ‘negative stories in The Guardian and the like are so entrenched in British people’s minds and psyche, the only way to address this is to influence the tail wagging the dog’, she said.
She added: “Agriculture is a deeply emotional issue for the public. We must not dismiss their concerns, but aggressively combat untruths with facts.”
A change needs to take place in this conversation to find bigger and better alternatives rather than all the ‘inaccuracies’ about US food standards. It is counterproductive to constantly berate the US.
According to Taveau, to achieve this, communication experts need to put the right stories in the right places. She said: “Every time you put one negative comment out there, 14 positive messages are needed to overcome it.
“What is essential for trade negotiation is to have technical experts who understand policy and policy makers who understand how the policies made affect agricultural producers.”