After talks were held in April between the UK and the US, British MPs have criticized the “top-down” approach to these talks as some fear that it could end in a downgrading of UK workers’ rights. The negotiations are expected to continue for several more months, with hopes of a trade deal being achieved by the end of the year.
Fears Rise as Trade Talks Omit Workers’ Input
Trade talks between the UK and the US are going ahead with “minimal” input from important cohorts – workers, small businesses, and think tanks are being mostly excluded from talks, according to MPs who have accused Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the UK trade secretary, of attempting to protect her department from scrutiny.
These criticisms come just months after a trade deal was struck between the UK and New Zealand, which also faced backlash as skeptics believe that economical benefits will be marginal.
In general, MPs are worried that the proposals will downgrade workers’ rights. Critics from both the US and UK have cast doubt over the grasp the UK government has on the importance of labor rights. However, both countries have promised this will not happen. The US president has stated that workers’ rights will be protected in any trade deal he strikes.
But many still believe the exclusion of a range of important voices from the decision-making process will increase the risk of the UK signing a deal that will result in adverse effects for domestic industries.
Why the US Is an Important Trade Partner for the UK
The US is the UK’s largest export market for the UK. In 2020, total UK-US trade was estimated to be worth £220 billion. With the UK’s exit from the EU, trade barriers have emerged between the UK and countries that remain in the bloc, making trade with the union more challenging. As a result, the US may emerge as an even more important trade partner in the future.
The UK is also a vital trading partner for the US. In 2019, US goods and services exported to the UK totaled $147.4 billion, making the UK the US’s 7th largest trading partner. A trade deal between the two countries could facilitate more trade, with experts estimating it could boost trade by £15 billion in the long term.
Could Brexit Increase the Importance of the UK-US Trade Relationship?
In 2021, UK exports to the EU dropped by £20 billion. Since Brexit, delays at the UK’s ports have made headlines, with supply chains beginning to feel the strain. Since the spring of 2021, wait times at UK ports have doubled, with shipping companies spending more than seven days on average to discharge.
Experts blame the additional paperwork brought in by Brexit. As a result, many UK exporters are exploring other markets, which would explain the drop in trade with the bloc. The US will thus likely prevail as a lucrative trade partner for UK exporters.
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