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THINK GLOBAL PEOPLE US TRADE


EAL? IONS


One thing the US-UK talks around a post-Brexit trade deal did not need was a presidential election on November 3 – an event that looks destined to muddy the already-murky waters swirling around the transatlantic negotiations. David Sapsted reports.


N


obody is sure if a Donald Trump victory would result in his toughening the American stance in the talks, the fourth formal session of which got underway in September.


Similarly, nobody knows if a Joe Biden victory would make it harder or easier to reach an agreement. On the one hand, Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow


at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, believes a Biden administration would be more inclined to make compromises over issues such as food safety standards and the controversial digital services tax. On the other hand, James Kane, an associate specialising in trade at the Institute for Government in London, does not believe US negotiators would drop many, if any, of their current demands, even if there were to be a change at the White House. “The US objective will remain to get US agricultural


products into the UK. That will still mean removing tariff s and non-tariff barriers like the ban on hormone-treated beef and chlorinated chicken,” he told Business Insider recently. “The US tried to do that with the European Union under Obama, and I don’t see why they’d do it any diff erently under President Biden.”


THE IMPACT OF THE DIGITAL SERVICES TAX As for President Trump, he – along with both Republicans and Democrats on a Senate committee that would have to ratify any deal – clearly remains furious over the digital services tax that became law in Britain over the summer. This will tax the earnings of tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, which, of course, are American. Mr Trump has threatened to impose tariff s on


UK car exports if the tax became law and, in August, Senator Chuck Grassley, the Republican chair of the Senate fi nance committee, and Senator Ron Wyden, the committee’s senior Democrat, issued a joint statement saying that the tax “unnecessarily complicates the path forward for a US-UK trade deal” and urged the UK to “reconsider this punitive action against its ally”. If that were not a large enough stumbling block, there


is a continuing impasse over agriculture, with London refusing to allow more imports of US meat products because of concerns over animal welfare, the veterinary drugs used by US producers and decontamination methods used on slaughtered poultry.


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