March 2, 2020
Release of UK Negotiating Objectives Kicks FTA Talks Into High Gear
There were few surprises in the document, and it highlighted a number of areas that are likely to be the most contentious. In the healthcare space, the document reiterates – several times – that the “NHS is not, and never will be, for sale to the private sector.” This position is seemingly meant to push back on American pharmaceutical and health companies who have long dreamed of privatization and entrance into the British health system.
Agriculture is also likely to be one of the areas where any prospective agreement lives or dies. The negotiating objectives raises the specter of American “chlorine-washed chicken” and “hormone-fed beef” but seeks to assure UK citizens that any agreement would “uphold the UK’s high levels of public, animal, and plant health, including food safety.”
The UK document presents an interesting contrast to the U.S. version, which was released last February and is truly just a list of the U.S. government priorities in a host of sectors, including agriculture and sanitary and phytosanitary measures; labor; pharmaceuticals; currency; and dispute settlement, among others.
Formal negotiations between the U.S. and UK are expected to begin imminently, and both sides have expressed hope in completing a deal by the end of the year, which means that now is the time to engage.