On 2 March, the UK Government published a document relating to the UK’s trade negotiations with the United States of America (US). The Secretary of State for International Trade made a statement to the House of Commons in the evening of 2 March, repeated in the House of Lords.
The document sets out the UK’s aims and objectives in US trade negotiations. It includes the UK government’s overall approach, the headline objectives for a UK-US free trade agreement, a response to the public consultation held last year, and a preliminary scoping assessment of the long-term impacts of a trade agreement.
The analysis published by the UK Government illustrates why we have consistently emphasised the importance of securing as close a partnership with the EU as possible. The most optimistic scenario modelled by the UK Government points to gains for the UK of 0.16% of GDP over 15 years. This will in no way compensate for lost trade with the EU.
Negotiations with the US are worthwhile, but they should not be rushed. Nor should they undermine the UK Government’s negotiations with the EU. A deep and comprehensive agreement with the EU must be the absolute priority. The deeper the agreement with the EU the less the economic damage to Wales and the UK.
The UK Government’s previous estimates of no-deal with the EU – or trading on WTO terms – are of a loss of GDP for the UK of -9.3% over 15 years. The potential gains of a close partnership with the EU dwarf the benefits of all the other trade deals the UK are prioritising combined.
The outline case for the US is, nevertheless, a reasonable starting point for negotiations. It does not make unnecessary concessions, however it is very open to interpretation. We now need to be fully involved in negotiations to ensure Welsh interests are protected and promises made about our NHS, food standards and other areas are honoured.