UK - US Agriculture Trade War?


By Daniela Stratulativ, The Maritime Executive



Currently, the UK is negotiating trade agreements with the US, the EU, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Australia and New Zealand also started trade negotiations with the EU in 2018. The UK is facing the challenge of replacing the free trade agreements (FTAs) that the EU has with more than 50 countries, if it wants to maintain the same level of competitiveness in the global markets. Usually, the agreements could take between four and ten years to finalize. However, the UK has set ambitious targets of completing the negotiations with several of the top trade partners this year.


The US and the UK held the second round of trade negotiations on Monday, June 15. The US is looking to increase exports of agricultural products to the UK, among the most debated in the negotiations being meat and meat products. At the same time, Australia is also looking to secure a larger share of the UK agricultural market. The first round of negotiations are scheduled to begin on June 29.


The UK produces only 60% of the food it consumes, therefore the increased pressure to set new rules for trade of agricultural products. The UK total agricultural imports in 2019 reached $65.7 billion. The imports for live animals, meat and edible meat offal, and preparations of meat and fish reached $10.7 billion in 2019, a significant market for suppliers, and a central point for the current UK US trade negotiations and for the upcoming UK Australia trade talks.


The negotiations in progress with the US raise significant concern among the UK farmers, who will not be able to compete with the low-cost US products without government support. The US cost advantage is due to different rearing methods and growth-enhancing feed additives, that are not allowed under EU regulations for food safety and animal welfare. The UK must follow these regulations until the transition period ends in January 2021.


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