EU snub as Joe Biden to adopt ‘more hostile’ approach with Brussels than Brexit Britain
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President-elect Joe Biden is within days from moving into the White House. From rebuilding the Iran nuclear deal to fighting the pandemic to addressing climate change, Europeans are scrambling to seize the moment with the incoming US leader. Because of Mr Biden’s age and history, many in the EU believe he will be more interested in cooperation with Europe than any US president for the foreseeable future.
However, in an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Government trade adviser Shanker Singham explained why tensions with Brussels will fundamentally remain, whereas London will be able to develop a stronger trade relationship with Washington.
Mr Singham, the CEO of economic consultancy Competere, said: “Any new US President has to focus on domestic policy for the first few months…
“He cannot seem to be leading with foreign policy and I expect Biden to be no different.
“He will be trying to offset the balance of the Trump administration, the anti-Europe approach.
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“But at the end of the day, what does it mean for trade policy?”
The deals the US would like to do, Mr Singham claimed, are with the EU and the UK.
However, there seems to be a crucial problem with Brussels.
Mr Singham explained: “The Democrats are going to be more hostile to some of the European policies going forward.
“The Trump administration was not a big fan of big tech but the Democrats on the West Coast are, and digital services taxes in Europe are going to be a massive impediment and barrier.
“Standard issues are also going to be a massive impediment in a deal between the US and the EU.”
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Finally, on agriculture, Mr Singham noted, the Democrats are stronger on market access for US producers and US farmers, whereas European agricultural protectionism will continue.
He said: “Actually, it is getting worse… The sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules in Europe are getting worse.
“The chances of getting a US-EU deal are zero… and I think the EU knows that.”
According to Mr Singham, though, a deal with the UK could actually help the US secure an agreement with the EU in the long term.
He concluded: “I think all roads will lead to Rome… and Rome is a deal with the UK.
“There has been a lot of talk about extending Trade Promotion Authority just for the UK deal.
“And that has been coming from a lot of different sources, not just a campaign with one person behind.”
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In July, an obscure piece of US legislation that both governs the process through which trade deals pass through Congress and sets out the overarching principles of US trade policy, expires.
When protected by that legislation — known as the Trade Promotion Authority — trade deals are effectively “fast-tracked” through the US Congress with lawmakers unable to make substantial changes or amendments to the text of the deal.
In order to be protected by the TPA, a US-UK trade deal must be put before the US Congress by April.
If that deadline is missed, the deal will either be put before Congress without the fast-track protections offered, and risk being bogged down in dispute, or UK officials could wait for a fresh TPA to be negotiated.
Despite Mr Singham’s claims, in another interview with Express.co.uk, Alan Winters, director of the Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson will almost certainly miss this crucial deadline.
Professor Winters said: “The chances of a trade deal with the US in the near future are really low.
“Americans want things out of the deal that are pretty unpalatable in the UK, such as chlorinated chicken and access to a pharmaceutical market at high prices.
“Basically all things that the UK Government has already said it cannot give.
“Now, they are not going to slip it through with Trump and Biden has lots of other things on his mind.
“He almost certainly will not appoint a trade representative to oversee the negotiations for a month or two.”
Prof Winters added: “Unless the deal is presented by April, it can’t go through on the Trade Promotion Authority, which expires in July.
“After then, it is unlikely that in the next two years Biden will spend political capital in renewing the Promotion Authority.
“Democrats have always found trade difficult.
“I think the Republicans will not be terribly keen to give them a victory, either.”
In a recent New York Times interview, President-elect Biden said his priorities will be to improve investment in US manufacturing and the protection of American workers.
He said: “I’m not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers and in education.”
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