With reports coming out that the UK and USA have started talks on a trade deal, and worrying news that the government may drop some of its pledges to uphold British standards in any such deal, I'm writing to ask whether the government will make this process transparent and democratic.
One of the core messages behind the leave campaign was about "taking back control" over decisions made far away in backroom deals with no input from the public. Some leave campaigners even claimed that the only way to stop the TTIP EU-US Trade Deal was to vote leave. Now it's possible we may end up with a similar deal - or worse - between the USA and the UK.
So my question is: Will the government release the full text of any trade deal negotiated with the USA before signing it into force, so that the public can make an informed decision about whether or not we want the deal?
Thank you for contacting me about this issue.
The benefits of an ambitious and comprehensive UK-US FTA are substantial. Aside from being the world’s largest economy, the US is the UK’s single largest trading partner. Total UK-US trade in the last year was valued at £220.9 billion, and our countries have over £700 billion invested in each other’s economies. Every day, over a million Britons and more than a million Americans work for companies from the other nation.
A UK-US FTA could benefit all four nations of the UK and almost every sector. The agricultural sector would be a winner with lower input costs and a bigger export market. Moreover, the 30,000 Small and Medium Sized Enterprises who export to the US from all parts of the UK would benefit from the cutting of tariffs, trade barriers and red tape.
I welcome that the Government has consulted widely on its negotiating plans. Indeed, there were 158,720 responses submitted to the consultation recently held on trade negotiations with the US.
Respondents noted, for example, that further reducing US tariffs across the automotive, ceramics, chemicals, processed food and drinks and textiles sectors could be beneficial.
With regards to the concerns some people have raised regarding UK standards, I am reassured by my Ministerial colleagues’ commitment not to compromise the UK’s high animal welfare, environmental, food safety and food import standards in any future FTA, including one with the US. Ministers do not want to compromise the UK’s domestic welfare production standards either.
It is worth noting that none of the transitioned EU FTAs have exported domestic welfare production standards, and extraterritorial regulation will not form part of any trade deal the UK is party to.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me and I do hope this can be of some use and reassurance to you.
With very best wishes,
I replied again asking Chris the same question he ignored the first time - Will he support the public seeing the full text of the deal before it is signed into force?
Chris has not answered.