Brexit: ‘No pressure’ for Biden to strike trade deal says expert
President-elect Joe Biden has dashed hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and US. As he outlined his vision for his first few days in the White House, the former Vice-President confirmed it does not involve a trade deal with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Instead, Mr Biden said he will adopt a similar “America First” policy to US President Donald Trump, fighting “like hell” to invest in US firms and employees.
The 78-year-old said: “I’m not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers and in education.”
Mr Johnson had put an agreement with the US at the heart of his plans to revive the UK after Brexit.
Despite Mr Biden’s claims, the Prime Minister’s chances of success could actually be quite high as the Democrat is bluffing, according to a Government adviser.
Shanker Singham, the CEO of economic consultancy Competere, told Express.co.uk: “Any new US President has to focus on domestic policy for the first few months.
“He cannot seem to be leading with foreign policy and I expect Biden to be no different.
Joe Biden tipped to back Brexit in US-UK trade deal U-turn: ‘They all want it’ (Image: GETTY)
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Image: PA)
“He will be trying to offset the balance of the Trump administration, the anti-Europe approach.
“But at the end of the day, what does it mean for trade policy?”
Mr Singham noted: “At the end of the day, a deal with the UK is the only deal a Democrat President like Biden can actually do, because there is no race to the bottom on labour and environment, there is no offshoring of US jobs.
“This would not be true for deals with Kenya or India, for example.
“Also, now, Democrats run the table.
“A UK deal that a Biden administration puts together is more likely to pass the US process.”
According to the trade expert, there has been a lot of talk about extending Trade Promotion Authority just for the UK deal.
President-elect Joe Biden (Image: GETTY)
Trade expert Shanker Singham (Image: EXPRESS.CO.UK)
In July, an obscure piece of US legislation that both governs the process through which trade deals pass through Congress and sets out the overarching principles of US trade policy, expires.
When protected by that legislation — known as the Trade Promotion Authority — trade deals are effectively “fast-tracked” through the US Congress with lawmakers unable to make substantial changes or amendments to the text of the deal.
In order to be protected by the TPA, a US-UK trade deal must be put before the US Congress by April.
If that deadline is missed, the deal will either be put before Congress without the fast-track protections offered, and risk being bogged down in dispute, or UK officials could wait for a fresh TPA to be negotiated.
Mr Singham talked to several cross-party politicians in Congress, who all seemed excited about the prospect of a US-UK trade deal.
He added: “It does seem to be coming from a lot of sources.
“I have had conversations with Richard Neal, who is the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
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Richard Neal, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (Image: PA)
“Ron Wyden, who will be the Chairman of the Senate Finance committee.
“They all want a deal with the UK.
“If anything, that really has not changed.”
Despite Mr Singham’s claims, in another interview with Express.co.uk, Alan Winters, director of the Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, cast a shadow over the prospect of a US-UK trade deal.
Professor Winters said: “The chances of a trade deal with the US in the near future are really low.
“Americans want things out of the deal that are pretty unpalatable in the UK, such as chlorinated chicken and access to a pharmaceutical market at high prices.
“Basically all things that the UK Government has already said it cannot give.
Professor Alan Winters (Image: EXPRESS.CO.UK)
“Now, they are not going to slip it through with Trump and Biden has lots of other things on his mind.
“He almost certainly will not appoint a trade representative to oversee the negotiations for a month or two.”
Prof Winters added: “Unless the deal is presented by April, it can’t go through on the Trade Promotion Authority, which expires in July.
“After then, it is unlikely that in the next two years Biden will spend political capital in renewing the Promotion Authority.
“Democrats have always found trade difficult.
“I think the Republicans will not be terribly keen to give them a victory, either.”