David Davis MP tells US farmers they will be winners from US/UK trade deal

According to Farmers’ Guardian, the UK's former Brexit Secretary David Davis has been lobbying for a trade deal that benefits American farmers during a recent trip to Washington.

Mr Davis was accompanied on his trip by former Defra Secretary Owen Paterson and director of international trade at the Institute of Economic Affairs, Shanker Singham (formerly of the Legatum Institute) on his tour of the USA.

The Washington International Trade Association were reportedly told by Mr Davis that: “If the US and UK can agree a free trade agreement that pulls the UK out of the EU’s regulatory orbit, then this will be enormously beneficial to America’s farmers, businesses and consumers.”

The United States has made it clear that if the UK wants to trade with the United States it will have to change its regulations and accept American farming processes such as washing chicken with chlorine or injecting beef with growth hormones – both of which are currently banned by EU regulations.

As Mr Davis is no longer a member of the UK government it is unclear what mandate he believes he has for unilaterally negotiating trade agreements with the United States. However, formal, preparatory trade talks continue between the Department for International Trade, led by Liam Fox, and their US counterparts began last year. Although detailed information isn’t available, the DIT has admitted that the latest talks covered ‘agricultural goods’ and ‘regulatory issues related to trade’.

The American Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recently kick-started formal proceedings to negotiate a deal with the UK which he said would provide ‘timely and substantive results for US farmers and ranchers’.

Successive American administrations have made clear they believe products such as hormone-treated beef or chlorine-washed chicken have been subjected to such unjustified restrictions by the EU, and ‘pulling out of the EU’s regulatory orbit’ would allow the UK to import such goods from the US.

Vicki Hird, food and farming campaign co-ordinator at Sustain, said:

This is an outrage. David Davis was a Government Minister until this summer and yet is so desperate for a hard Brexit that he would throw hardworking UK farmers under a bus in favour of improving trade conditions for their American counterparts,” she said.

“A recent IPPR poll found that when asked whether the UK should lower food safety standards to secure a trade deal with the US, or retain current standards, 82 per cent preferred to keep standards as they are.

“So not only is David Davis way out of line, but he is out of step with the British public.”

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