banner unionsafete

TUC – UK Shouldn’t Trust Trump On Trade Talks

Union body calls for government to put EU trade deal first

Responding to the publication of the government’s negotiating objectives for a US trade deal, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The government should be focused on getting a good trade deal with the EU – not cosying up to Donald Trump. President Trump doesn’t care about the UK. The only trade agreement he wants to strike is one that will line the pockets of his corporate backers.

Boris Johnson is wrong to rush into these talks. A bad trade deal with the US will put working people’s jobs and rights on the line. And it will undermine our vital public services, environment and food standards."

She concluded:

“Nobody voted for chlorinated chicken or for US corporations to have more access to our personal data.”

The TUC is calling on the government to give unions a seat at the table for all trade talks.

However, many see the situation as far worse in that Boris Johnson can't be trusted in any trade deals he makes with the USA; because the position for the UK is one of desperation; given the likelyhood of trade talks with the EU failing dues to Tory Governments demands and the clear intent to break the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement with regard to Northern Ireland and any form of a 'level playing field' on goods and standards.

The US position over trade with the UK was made clear, and detailed in February 2019; when their demands for a UK/US trade deal was documented and published entitled 'United States - Untied Kingdom Negotiations Summary of Specific Negotiating Objectives'.

Unionsafety E-Library made the document available to those wishing to download it, and at the time highlighted several serious issues for workers health and safety, food and environmental safety; amongst others.

With all Trade talks with both the USA and the EU being made in secret and with no Parliamentary scrutiny (as agreed by Tory MPs supporting this stance in the 2020 session of Parliament), there will be no say for those elected to protect the rights and needs of the country!

Food standards are critical and if the US has it's way, will open up the UK to imports of much lower, and even dangerous standards of food being sold in our supermarkets!

Here just a few of them:

Antibiotic Meat, Chlorinated Chicken, GM Foods, More PUS and Pesticides, Unsafe Babyfood, and All-American Stilton Cheese and Cornish pasties

Full details of the likely lowering of public health standards as a result of lowering food safety standards can be found in an article written by Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now published by the Guardian newspaper today

Today, the UK government's objectives in forthcoming trade talks with the USA was published:

In the introductory statement in Chapter 1 of the 75 page document entitled UK-US Free Trade Agreement and published this morning (2nd March 2020), the Government claims once again that it will protect the NHS:

'The Government has been clear that when we are negotiating trade agreements, we will protect the National Health Service (NHS). Our objectives reinforce this. The NHS will not be on the table. The price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table. The services the NHS provides will not be on the table. The NHS is not, and never will be, for sale to the private sector, whether overseas or domestic. Any agreement will ensure high standards and protections for consumers and workers, and will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.'

With regard to the economy and jobs, absolutely no mention of worker's rights and employment standards is made with no commitment to upholding current employment standards of the UK being pledged.

Chapter 2 of the document deals specifically with the 'Outline Approach' to the talks with the US for a Free Trade Agreement under the heading of 'Public Negotiating Objectives for a Free Trade Agreement with the United States'

Chapter 3 gives details of the response to the 2018 public consultation from individuals, organisations and businesses and details the Government' response to this. It explains the 'Government’s policy in relation to the comments raised by respondents in the Public consultation on trade negotiations with the US: summary of responses document, outlining the Government’s position on each of the 15 policy areas covered and how this has informed the negotiation objectives set out in Chapter 2.'

Pic: UK Gov's policy for FTA with US - Click to downloadWhilst no mention is made of worker's rights in this chapter is made, under a section headed 'Other Policy Issues Raised By Respondents' anti-corruption, women's economic empowerment, Human Rights and Trade and developement are mentioned, albeit with a bland statement and no commitments!

For example on Human Rights it states:

'We recognise that a number of respondents highlighted the protection of human rights more generally, including specifically Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) rights, as a part of their concerns. We work closely with the US bilaterally and in a range of international fora to promote democracy and human rights. The UK has a strong history of protecting human rights and promoting our values globally, including for the LGBT community, and continues to encourage all countries to uphold international human rights obligations.'

This of course should be seen against a background of this government stating it will withdraw the UK from the European Court of Human Rights (set up by the UK and its allies in Europe after WWII) and has nothing to do with being a member or not of the EU!

When you consider that the US refuses to sign up to any international laws on Human Rights, it is clear where the UK is also heading on the issue of both human rights and those of workers rights!

Chapter 4 is entitled Scoping Assessment for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and the
United States. It includes an impact statement of a trade deal with the US, despite there being non with regard to the separate documentation provided by the Government on a future trade deal with the EU currently being negotiated starting this week.

In today's Guardian newspaper, Trade expert Sam Lowe said the document showed the government intended to take a robust approach to US demands that the UK drop barriers to trade in agriculture and food, including chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef and to its desire to get access to the NHS.

“If you consider this as an opening document in a negotiation, then it shows the UK is holding firm on the NHS and is quite strong on agriculture making promises not just on food safety but on animal welfare. So the UK is saying it doesn’t want to compromise. This means that we are in for proper negotiations not just a quick deal, so we are in for the long haul,” said Lowe.

You can download the full document, UK-US Free Trade Agreement, from the Unionsafety E-Library by using the search word 'UKUSFTA' or search category 'Brexit'.

Source: Gov.UK / Global Justice Now / The Guardian

Designed, Hosted and Maintained by Union Safety Services