Following the US Government’s public consultation to find out what organisations would like to see in the upcoming UK-US trade deal, lobbyists show up in force to demand the US government forces the UK to make regulatory exceptions and change to accommodate US firms.
It will not come as a shock to many. We all have expectations that the US will push for the UK to relax her regulatory regime and legislation in many industries and areas. Food, pharmaceuticals, data protection and financial services, at the very least. Now we can say conclusively that US corporations are seeking exemptions to allow them greater and unfettered access to the UK market.
There were 135 responses submitted to the public consultation. The majority of these were from industry groups such as the International Dairy Foods Association, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the US Meat Export Federation.
Some of these organisations, such as the North America Export Grain Association and National Grain and Feed Association, want the UK to diverge from the EU’s precautionary approach to food safety standards. At present, in regards to genetically modified food products, the EU (and by extension the UK) test to the ‘highest possible standards at EU level before any genetically modified organism is placed on the market.’ What one may assume is that the North America Export Grain Association and National Grain and Feed Association want the UK to step back from this ‘risk assessment’ approach and potentially lean towards the US’ current ‘Cost-Benefit’ approach to regulatory matters.
Further to the point of food safety standards, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has requested the US push for ‘mutual recognition of equivalence in safety standards.’ Those who have been to America will know that the food safety standards between the UK and the US are anything but equivalent. Much of the livestock in the United States are injected with hormones that are banned in the UK and much of the chicken in the United States is washed with chlorine (the chemical used to clean the water in swimming pools), which is also banned in the UK. No matter how much Liam Fox downplays differences between the UK and US food regulation regime, it is difficult to see how the food standards between the UK and the US are equivalent at all.
Data Protection also seems to be high on the agenda for US firms. Since the General Data Protection Regulation came into force last May, firms outside of the EU have struggled to deal with the regulatory burden and have resorted to blocking the EU market from accessing their services. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise the American Property Casualty Insurance Association refers to the GDPR as “overly burdensome” and wants the trade deal to lessen the data privacy burden on US firms. Other parties want the UK to permit the “cross border transfer of data,” which is currently prohibited under EU/UK Law to countries that have not been deemed to have an equivalent data protection regime.
Some companies of note that submitted to the public consultation include The Pokemon Company International (TPCI) and the Recording Industry Association of America. TPCI is however advocating for the UK and US to start a consumer rights regime that will become the new gold standard and for UK professionals to enter the US for up to six years without needing a Visa.
It will be interesting to see how the US-UK trade deal turns out in actuality, with formal negotiations due to start following the UK’s exit from the European Union.